Paidamoyo Chipunza recently in Victoria Falls
African Ministers of Health have adopted six frameworks aimed at addressing six major health challenges affecting the continent’s health sector amid calls to increase and mobilise funding to operationalise them.
The frameworks, which were adopted during the five-day World Health Organisation’s 67th regional committee meeting that took place in Victoria Falls, speak to sexually transmitted infections, non-communicable diseases and yellow fever.
They also speak to universal health coverage, human resources for health and management of environmental determinants of health. WHO’s regional director Dr Matshidiso Moeti described the engagements and debates by the African Ministers during the five days as productive and successful.
She said the six areas endorsed for immediate action were the main and common issues affecting the African continent. “I noticed a very high level of analysis, awareness of the critical challenges that we are facing and determination to find home-grown solutions, to learn from each other, the Ministers of Health and their delegations,” said Dr Moeti.
She commended presence of health’s technical and financial partners at the meeting saying the platform also provided an opportunity for them to dialogue with the Health Ministers on how to work together to enhance efficiencies.
Dr Moeti said while funding was critical in addressing Africa’s key health challenges, countries also needed to invest in data collection to enable them to monitor their progress towards addressing health challenges.
“We learn here that financing for health is very important, but at the same time we have to make sure that we have good data systems that are functioning so that the country can know how it is progressing in providing essential health care,” she said.
Dr Moeti urged the Ministers to also engage with other sectors in addressing health issues saying health was not determined only by the actions of health experts, but other sectors too particularly on issues to do with road traffic safety, environmental determinants of health among others.
She said WHO was looking forward to working with all its member states in the African region to implement decisions that were taken during the meeting to enable the continent to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa said Zimbabwe was proud to have been selected to host the meeting.
He said 42 out of 47 invited countries attended the meeting. “The issues that we touched on, are critical and are very relevant to us. Whatever we have to do, the common denominator is on how we mobilise our resources for health,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
Outside the adopted frameworks, Dr Parirenyatwa said he was intrigued by the discussion on road safety in the African region, which he described as almost an epidemic, particularly for Zimbabwe.
Dr Parirenyatwa said the continent needed to make sure that it was prepared for such emergencies.