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.
As we prepare to go to this meeting, it is my hope that we rememberthe routine that
we have discussed previously on how delegations prepare forinternational meetings.
It is a critical meeting for a number of reasons and areview of the Draft Agenda
shows the importance of this 65 Regional Committee.
First, it will be the first meeting under the leadership of the new Regional
Director Dr.Matshidiso Moeti since she assumed office in February 2015. Dr Moeti has
beenworking during her first year in office to develop "The TransformationAgenda of
the WHO Secretariat in the African Region 2015 – 2020" whichwill be put before
Ministers for note and endorsement. According to Dr. Moeti,"the Transformation
Agenda" marks a commitment to positive change.Its objective is to ensure that the
WHO Secretariat in the African Regionevolves into the primary leader in health
development in the region and areliable and effective protector of Africa’s health.
The Transformation Agendahas four focus areas, namely: pro-results values, smart
technical focus,responsive strategic operations, and effective communication
andpartnerships." I hope that delegations will engage the Regional Directoron this
agenda and go back home committed to supporting Dr. Moeti in her noblecause for
Second, there will be a discussion on lessons learnt fromthe West African Ebola
outbreak which will provide an opportunity for delegatesto appreciate the need for
each and every country to have plans forpreparedness and core capabilities
torespond to infectious disease outbreak ideally working with affectedcommunities to
arrest the epidemics at the level where they first occur thusstopping them from
becoming global health risks. Compliance with the International Health Regulations
(2005)should also fit into this agenda as most African countries are not
compliantwith reporting requirements.
Another linked agenda item is stocktaking of the performanceof The African Public
Health EmergencyFund (APHEF), which is not performing well at all as very few member
statesare making contributions to it! TheProgress report on the establishment of
the African Centre for Disease Controlis closely related and I hope it will be
possible for Health Ministers to speakwith one voice at the African Union and the
WHO Regional Committee so that aneffective collaborative and non-competitive
relationship between WHO and theAfrican CDC will be built taking full advantage of
existing capacities in theAfrican region.
Third, this meetingtakes place soon after the adoption of the Sustainable
Development Goals andthe transition from the MDGs and is being discussed under the
heading of "Progress on health-related MillenniumDevelopment Goals and the post
2015 health development agenda". SDG 3 onhealth states " "Ensure healthy lives
andpromote wellbeing for all at all ages". How African countrieswill be assessed by
the UN will be against performance on delivering on theSDGs. Development partners
will also have to move to align their resources tothe SDGs. It will therefore the
useful for African countries to understand theSDGs as early as possible and start to
work within their framework as this isthe new global compact on our future under the
banner "Transforming Our World- the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development".
There are several other important agenda topics such as thenew Global Health
Workforce Strategy where it has been noted that a significantnumber of African
countries are experiencing worsening population to healthworker ratios over the last
ten years despite a vigorous campaign on thematter. Working conditions for health
workers remain a challenge and many hoesuccumbed to infectious diseases acquired in
the course of duty such as Ebola,hepatitis and HIV. There is also an agenda on
Health Research which deservesattention and has important implications for health
There are many information sharing sessions containing good news such as the
progress with polioeradication, health promotion and women's health.
I would appreciate your comments and suggestions on how toimprove the work of WHO in
the African Region especially around the new TransformationAgenda, Ebola and SDGs.