67 WHO REGIONAL COMMITTEE INSPIRES HOPE FOR THE FUTURE OF AFRICAN HEALTH

on Tuesday, 29 August 2017.

Dear Colleagues,

Here is our discussion topic for August and September 2017.

I am writing from the 67th Session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa opened on 28th August 2017 at Elephant Hills Resort in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe; opened by President Robert Mugabe. Key participants included Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, Dr Asamoah Baah Deputy WHO DG, Dr A. Nascimento do Rosario, President of the 66th Regional Committee from Cape Verde and David Parirenyatwa, Minister of Health and Child Care of Zimbabwe, the African Union Commissioner for Social Services and Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, as well as delegations from the Member States of the WHO African Region and partners.

It is an uplifting experience to see all these leaders united here including the AU Commission. They all placed health of the people at the center not just in words but I feel that these leaders are sincere in what they are saying to us. Do we care? How do we show that we care? These are the questions that are being asked here. For example President Mugabe stated “Let us therefore push health to take its deserved prominence on our agendas in our sub-regional groups, at the African Union level and indeed on the global forum,".

President Mugabe also noted that Africa is disproportionately represented on the global disease burden for communicable and non-communicable diseases. "We must ask ourselves why this is so, and more importantly, what can we do to arrest and reverse these trends," and called for building of formal health care systems to respond. Indeed Zimbabwe has taken practical steps to finance health from domestic resources. It was the first country to have an HIV levy and has followed this up with a health tax on phone calls. These are bold actions indeed. Can we hear of other such examples?

REFRESHING DIRECTIONS FROM THE 70TH WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY

on Wednesday, 21 June 2017.

Dear Colleagues,

Here is our topic for June,2017.

The 70th World Health Assembly ended nearly one month ago and left me feeling good for a number of reasons.

The first was the election of Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia as the first African Director General of WHO. This was achieved in a closed session where three candidates vied for the votes of all member states by secret ballot unlike in the past years when the Executive Board of WHO submitted one name for endorsement by the WHA. Dr. Tedros, as the new Director General is generally known, won easily in three rounds of voting and is an excellent choice. Dr. Tedros has first-hand experience in running a national health system as a very successful Health Minister in Ethiopia.

As health minister, he was very popular among the global health initiatives where he served as chair on the Boards of these organizations such as Roil Back Malaria, and the Global Fund. His current job has been Foreign Minister of Ethiopia which has further exposed him to the world of global diplomacy. I have personally worked with Dr. Tedros in my days as Executive Director of GHWA where Ethiopia was a grantee as one of the 8 global Pathfinder countries on HRH development and later I was a Senior Adviser to the five-year Ministerial Leadership Initiative for Global Health where Ethiopia was one of the five project countries. From this experience I can describe Dr. Tedros as human, caring and visionary. The WHO and the global community should look forward to the future of global health with hope and I wish Dr. Tedros every success. Should Africa expect anything special?

THE 5TH FORUM OF THE AFRICAN PLATFORM ON HRH, 19 -21 APRIL, 2017, KAMPALA.

on Thursday, 09 March 2017.

Dear Colleagues,

Here is our topic for March and April, 2017.

The African Platform on Human Resources for Health will hold the 5th African HWF Forum in Kampala, Uganda, from Wednesday 19th to Friday 21st April 2017. The African Platform is the regional arm of the Global Health Workforce Network (GWN) that was launched in Geneva last December, 2016 as the successor the Global Health Workforce Alliance (GHWA).

Emerging evidence from the studies leading to the development of the new Global Health Workforce Strategy shows that despite spirited advocacy and several interventions in Education and Training, HWF management and campaigns over the last decade, African HWF densities have stagnated and have worsened in some countries. At the same time there are several global developments such as the SDGs, the new Global Health Workforce Strategy, the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth and the Five-Year Action Plan to implement its recommendations. The African Union Commission has also launched a new Health Strategy during 2016.

 

HEALTH SYSTEMS FOR ACCELERATING ACHIEVEMENT OF SDGS

on Monday, 16 January 2017.

Dear Colleagues,

This blog has not been released in this space for some time. This was due to upgrade work on our website which has now been completed. However, I have been writing the and publishing the blogs in the Africa Health Journal every two months and all the issues can be accessed in the Discussion Forum at www.achest.org.

Please read and feel free to comment as in the past.

The months leading to the end of the year 2016 saw a flurry of activity around positioning for the acceleration of the achievement of SDGs. At ACHEST we convened several meetings including a Regional Consultation of Think Tanks and Academic Institutions in September 2016 with support from IDRC of Canada and the 3rd African Health Systems Governance Network in October, 2016 supported by the USAID. In November, 2016, ACHEST participated at a meeting in Rio de Jenairo and at the Global summit on Health Systems Research in Vancouver. In December 2016, one of our colleagues was at another meeting on SDGs convened by the UN in Vienna while I attended two meetings in Geneva on Universal Health Coverage and a High Level Ministerial meeting on the UN Secretary General Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth two other ACHEST colleagues were on mission to Nigeria to monitor migration of health workers.

So with all this activity, are we going where we want to go with special reference to rural and poor urban communities in developing countries? Are we on the most desirable track to get there with the SDGs at the earliest and “leaving no one behind” as the slogan says?
This is how I see it. Our first and most important job is to create the right climate of opinion that will enable the global and regional actors to support country health systems that leave no one behind. The future health system should be one that is “wellness-based as opposed to illness-based” systems of today.

PRIORITIES AT THE 69 WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY

on Wednesday, 18 May 2016.

Dear Colleagues,

Here is our topic for May and June 2016.
The next 69 World Health Assembly (WHA) will start next week, 23 – 28 May, 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland. Member states must be now be in advanced stages of preparing for this annual event and in one of our previous discussions we addressed the ideal approaches for preparing for the WHA and other international meetings. I have looked at the agenda for the 69 WHA and want to draw the following Agenda items to the special attention of the African delegations.

1. Agenda 11 on WHO Reform: WHO has gone through tough times in the last few years and there are voices that are calling for the role of WHO downgraded. Yet without a strong global organization which brings together all member states with equal voice around one table to address global health matters, global health and health security will be at increased risk. We need to support and strengthen WHO. The funding of WHO needs to be increased but also the monitoring of performance and accountability by WHO by member states should increase. Elections for the new Director General of WHO are around the corner and it is high time that an African occupied this position.