African leaders urged to make more investments in health systems

AFRICAN leaders have been urged to commit more resources to their nation’s health systems to improve citizens’ well-being.

The appeal was the highlight of the just-concluded second edition of the International Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA 2022) in Kigali, Rwanda, according to a statement from the meeting mailed to The ICIR by Ouma Onyango.

The conference had the theme, ‘Preparedness for Future Pandemics and Post-pandemic Recovery: Africa at a crossroads’.

Participants called for solidarity among African nations and global partners to advance local manufacturing of health commodities, strengthen emergency preparedness and response, and expand universal health coverage.

They also sought improved collaboration with the African Centre for Disease Control (Africa CDC) to implement the New Public Health Order, a roadmap for sustainable health outcomes and improved health security championed by the African CDC.

“Drawing on lessons from Africa’s past experiences in outbreak response, the New Public Health Order is guided by principles of local ownership, leadership, equity, innovation and self-reliance. Throughout the three days of the conference, stakeholders echoed the call for a new approach that empowers African countries to be prepared for the health challenges of the future,” read a part of the statement.

The conference was held between December 13 and 15 and had over 2,500 participants from 90 countries across the continent and beyond.

The participants include heads of state and ministers of health, leading scientists and researchers, representatives from the private sector, civil society, and global health and development organisations.

The meeting also honoured Africans who have made remarkable impacts in the health sector in the region, including Nigeria’s Stella Adadevor, who sacrificed her life to prevent Ebola from spreading in Nigeria in 2014.

Some of the other awardees are Rose Leke, a professor of immunology and parasitology, who received the Achievement in Global Health Leadership Award.

Leke, a Fellow of the Cameroon Academy of Sciences, the African Academy of Science and The World Academy of Science, got the award for her contributions to academia, including her time as Head of Department at the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Yaounde and Director of the Biotechnology Centre. 

She has also chaired the African Region Regional Certification Commission since its inception in 1999 and made the decision to certify the WHO African Region free of wild polio in 2020. 

Memoranda of understanding (MoU) were also signed at the meeting, including the CDC and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) MoU to enhance supply security and facilitate equitable access to quality approved antimalarials, thereby maximising the use and health impact of existing products on the continent. 

The collaboration aims to support African Union member states in accelerating and scaling-up African manufacturing, building on existing capacities and developing new ones to support the manufacturing of quality-assured malaria APIs and FPPs. 

Sessions at the meeting focused on Africa’s most pressing health challenges and topical issues, including re-emerging and high-burden infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, mental health, the role of women leaders in public health, technology and digital health innovations, the power of engaging civil society, community actors, and the private sector to advance shared health goals. 

Speaking on behalf of the government of Rwanda, which hosted the event, the State Minister of Health, Dr Yvan Butera, said Rwanda was glad to collaborate with the Africa CDC to implement the New Public Health Order in its various aspects, including strengthening institutions for public health, building public health workforce, expanding local manufacturing, increasing domestic investment in health, and promoting strategic partnerships, which he said resonated very well with the theme of the conference.

Some of the participants are Rt. Hon. Édouard Ngirente, Prime Minister, Republic of Rwanda; Yvan Butera, State Minister of Health, Republic of Rwanda; Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO); Chikwe Ihekweazu, Assistant Director General, World Health Organization (WHO) for Surveillance and Health Emergency Intelligence; Winnie Byanyima.

They also include the Executive Director, UNAIDS; Awa Marie Coll Seck, Minister of State to the President of the Republic of Senegal and Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, Acting Director of Africa CDC.

The next edition of the meeting will be hosted by Zambia.

Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's the ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022. Contact him via email @ [email protected].

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