African health ministers and government representatives officially launched the seventy-third session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for Africa today. The goal of the meeting is to discuss and adopt essential measures to address the region’s health concerns, and advance, and promote good health and well-being.
The annual conference, which serves as the highest decision-making body for WHO in Africa, will be held in Gaborone, Botswana, from August 28 to September 1. The meeting’s main topics will include a variety of tactics for supporting health systems, improving preparedness and response to health emergencies, bolstering methods for addressing crises related to nutrition and food insecurity and dealing with the threat of infectious and chronic diseases, among other issues.
With the COVID-19 pandemic’s acute phase now over, nations are working to recover from its devastating effects on economies, health, and way of life while also learning lessons on how to better prepare for pandemics and shocks in the future.
We face various issues, including escalating poverty, humanitarian crises, and food insecurity, all of which are detrimental to our health and well-being. Building on the lessons learned during the COVID-19 epidemic, there is an urgent need to strengthen international cooperation and global solidarity, stated H.E. Mokgweetsi Masisi, President of Botswana.
To achieve important health and other development goals, effective collaborations and partnerships are needed to address current and upcoming difficulties.
“The collaboration between WHO and the AU Commission Health Department is a fundamental pillar in the implementation of health programs, Sustainable Development Goals, and the aspiration of the AU’s 2063 agenda,” said H.E. Ambassador Minata Samaté Cessouma, the African Union Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs, and Social Development.
Disease outbreaks like polio, cholera, Ebola, and Marburg Virus Disease, among others, continue to be a concern as nations try to strengthen the resilience of their health systems for universal health care and health security. Climate change-related natural disasters exacerbate these outbreaks.
The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, urged all Member States to take strong action to provide health by reorienting their health systems toward primary health as the cornerstone of universal health coverage. “I implore all Member States to act to safeguard public health by bolstering your safeguards against medical emergencies.
The 75th anniversary of the WHO, which is being celebrated with year-long events to highlight health achievements and bolster efforts to address present and upcoming problems, falls on the same day as the Regional Committee this year.
Africa has advanced significantly in a variety of ways. Quicker outbreak detection has been made possible by advancements in public health emergency response. AIDS-related deaths and new HIV infections in the area have decreased over the past ten years, and leprosy has almost completely disappeared as a public health issue.
“We recognize the pledges our leaders have made to quicken the process of achieving health security and universal health coverage. Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, emphasized the collaborative efforts by governments and partners to make these commitments a reality. “Despite the challenging global health context in which we currently find ourselves, recent developments in our Member States show that the future of health in the African region is hopeful.”
The Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention’s Director-General, Dr. John Kaseya, urged nations to step up their pandemic preparedness with assistance from their allies to achieve a successful response to protect lives and livelihoods.
According to Dr. Kaseya, “The next pandemic is coming, and we need to be prepared like other continents are,”
The five-day summit in Gaborone is being attended by some 800 people, both physically and online, including representatives from United Nations agencies, nongovernmental groups, civil society, academics, and development partners.
The Regional Committee, the WHO’s regional decision-making body, meets yearly to examine and support regional policies, initiatives, and budgetary plans aimed at enhancing the health and welfare of people on the African continent.