Welcome to 2016. Here is our discussion topic for January and February 2016:
Who will prevail; microorganisms or human beings?
Since time immemorial microbes haveoccasioned epidemics and pandemics that have
killed millions of people and intheir wake disrupting livelihoods and causing social
and economic disorder thefinancial value of which is impossible to estimate
accurately but must bein zillions of dollars. The recent Ebolaoutbreaks in West
Africa and the devastation and fear they wreaked in thosecountries and round the
world are still fresh in our minds.
The African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government in their meeting in July 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda ordered that the African Union Commission secretariat (AUC) be restructured so that it can execute its roles better as an efficient organization. Such restructuring will have implications for the way in which the Africa Union Commission operates in many areas of work including its work on health. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda,
the current Chairperson of the AU was charged with the responsibility of overseeing this restructuring of the AUC. President Kagame has appointed a team to make proposals that will be submitted to the next AU Summit in January, 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
This work is important because right now there are discussions about the how the AUC will work with other partners in health especially the Regional Office for Africa of the World Health Organization and the Regional Economic Communities such as the West African Health Organization (WAHO) and East Central and Southern African Health Community (ECSA-HC). Other players include multilateral and bilateral agencies, philanthropy and the Civil Society Organizations sometimes called non state actors that include the private sector.
This is our topic for July and August 2016.
Our last discussion was about the May 2016, World Health Assembly and among the many activities that took place during the WHA was the “celebration” of 10 years of the life of Global Health Workforce Alliance (GHWA) and the transformation of this institution into a Network with a secretariat at the WHO Department of Health Workforce and an independent Management Board. The question that arose was whether this event was a celebration or a funeral for GHWA? I argued that it was both. Why?
A celebration because the founding documents of GHWA are beautiful with very clear objectives, deliverables and methods of work and in a short time we achieved a lot. We raised the visibility of the Health Workforce crisis, we quickly generated new knowledge on country and global work through the work of Task Forces and Working groups and we convened the First ever Global Forum on HRH and have held two other to follow on that. We have succeeded in having HWF at a target in the SDGs and the UNSG has always been supportive as he sent us a personal video message at the first Global Forum in Kampala and now he has appointed a High level Commission on health employment.
Two weeks ago in my country Uganda, the President of the country went to visit one of the districts and ended up sending away all but one of the 12 or so health workers in that rural health center. This happened because during a public meeting at the health center, the population expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of services that were being provided to them by the health center. This health center closed down immediately but was later in the week reopened by health workers from the military. There was uproar in the social media and media against this action by the President and the Opposition political leadership called a press conference to condemn it. The President moved quickly and invited a selection of health workers leaders to State House for discussions and followed up by attending the annual dinner of the Uganda Medical Association to facilitate further dialogue with the professionals.
I attended this dinner and as the newly elected chair of the Elders Forum of the Uganda Medical Association, I had an opportunity to speak. I informed the President that Uganda has very well trained health workers who are patriotic and loyal to the country and the population and were well liked outside Uganda as evidenced by their outstanding contribution to the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa. What was needed, I said, is to support them in addressing the health challenges in the country.
The 65th Regional Committee Meeting of the WHO Africa willmeet between 23 - 27th
November, 2015 in Ndjamena, Republic of Chad. Themeeting is taking place later than
usual partly due to security issues in thehost country. I am glad that the Republic
of Chad is able to host the meetingbecause I am informed that the President of Chad
personally chairs a Health meetingevery month and may be the only head of state to
do so in Africa or indeed thewhole world.