The African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation held its 3rd African Health Systems Governance Network (ASHGOVNET) from the 28th to 30th November 2016 with theme: “Fostering Capacity for Health Governance and Leadership with a focus on Health Workforce Development for Universal Health Coverage” at imperial Royale in Kampala.
Hon. Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, the Prime Minister of Uganda who was the guest speaker at the opening ceremony noted that strengthening of health systems is a priority in global and national health policy and practice. In Africa for example, the major burden of disease remains attributable to preventable, communicable diseases ranging from endemic diseases such as malaria to emerging and re-emerging infections such as HIV/AIDS, multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, pandemics from haemorrhagic fevers, diarrhoeal diseases, and what is described as neglected tropical diseases.
ASHGOVNET was created in 2009 by an assembly of eminent African health system leaders and experts that noted the need to strengthen stewardship and governance roles and capacities of Ministers of Health and Ministries of Health. The USAID funded Leadership, Management and Government (LMG) program through Management Sciences for Health (MSH) committed to provide support to the ASHGOVNET Secretariat at ACHEST for convening this networking and knowle ge, experience and evidence sharing meeting of the leaders of these African health networks.
Prof. Francis Omaswa, the Executive Director of ACHEST highlighted three major issues while presenting on Fostering Stronger Health System Leadership and Governance in Africa for SDGs and urged the Health leaders in Africa to: Contribute to the AUC restructuring debate in health; Revitalize the African Health Workforce Strategy and Revitalize ASHGOVNET by building capacity of members who can in turn hold governments accountable.
Dr. Patrick Kadama, Director Policy and Practice at ACHEST gave an overview of the congress noting that ASHGOVNET aims to strengthen stewardship and leadership functions of ministries of health in Africa through a range of strategies including but not limited to: working with existing institutions; Promoting genuine dialogue with colleagues; securing political will and imparting political skills; organizing dialogue to gain common understanding on health issues; supporting ex-ministers to become mentors; organizing peer learning; creating an African peer review mechanism for health.
While Dr. Adam Ahmat HRH planning officer Health systems and services cluster at the WHO Regional Office in Brazzaville gave the African Roadmap on HRH implementation progress and challenges noting that by 2014 all countries should have had national HRH strategic plans reflecting the Road map, out of the 47 countries in the African region in 2015; 33 had HRH strategic plans reflecting the Regional road map; 10 were in developing process; 19 had HRH policies and 4 were in process.
The ASHGOVNET congress brought together Health leaders from seven African countries that included; Kenya, Zambia, Ghana, Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, South Africa and Uganda.
High level and insightful presentations were made on: Health Systems Advocacy for Africa Partnership; Engaging the Health Professionals for Action; Advocacy Space for Health Systems Strengthening; Health Systems Advocacy Partnership: Strategy for advocacy on Essential Commodities in HSAP; Reflections on the Future of Medical Education in Africa in a Rapidly Changing World Economic Order and Social Environments; Strategic Advocacy and Integrated Workforce Planning; Transitioning from MEPI to AFREhealth – HRH implications among many others.
As one of the outcomes, the congress agreed to continue to use the virtual site of the ASHGOVNET as a way of keeping information on health afloat.