The African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHESTs) Dr. Elsie Kiguli-Malwadde, Director Health Workforce Education and Development and Dr. David Okello, Director NCDs and Healthy Aging attended the East Central and South African - Heath Community (ECSA-HC) 12th Best Practices Forum held at Mount Meru Hotel, Arusha, Tanzania from 19 - 21 June 2019.
The Forum with the theme “Innovation and Accountability in Health towards achieving Universal Health Coverage” brought together Senior Officials from Ministries of Health, Health Experts, Health Researchers, Heads of Health Training Institutions from Member States of the ECSA Health Community (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Eswatini, Zambia, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mauritius) with the aim of identifying policy issues and making recommendations to accelerate and scale up best practices in the ECSA Region.
The subthemes that were discussed included, efforts to improve adolescent and young people’s health, opportunities for achieving water and sanitation health global target, equity and access to eye healthcare in the ECSA region, use of innovative approaches towards achieving food safety and improving quality of life, prioritizing substance use and mental health challenges in the ECSA region and tackling emerging and re-emerging health threats. Regional One Health approach to managing recurrent outbreaks in the region was discussed, coupled with bridging the gap between reality and aspiration in building health systems.
There were many pertinent and interesting best practices presentations. One that stood out was the one on eye care that was presented by a team from Rwanda. It presented basic interventions that aimed at training nurses in basic eye care skills that help them identify common eye conditions and gives them the ability to manage them and also to refer those that they can handle. It was noted that this has been successful .The College of Ophthalmologists was applauded for the intervention.
Many resolutions came out of the meeting, among them was the one urging the member states to update their Essential Health Benefits packages every 5 years using an entry point to improve health systems. Making sure they are linked to the national health strategies, taking into consideration the double burden of disease, social inequalities and global commitment to Universal Health Coverage (UHC). ACHEST recommended that Inter-sectoral collaboration should be added to the recommendation to help member states use it as a tool to enhance sharing of plans and resources.
Main issue raised was that the Forum has so far generated many resolutions, with limited progress on the implementation front.
ACHEST also used this forum to disseminate Information Education and Communication knowledge products that included the African Health Journal (AHJ) and other ACHEST publications.