Health authorities and experts gathering this week for the 72nd Session of the World Health Organisation (WHO) African Regional Committee have launched a new drive to find ways of revamping the Lome’s health systems.
The delegates assembled at the Regional Committee meeting tagged “Rethinking and Rebuilding Resilient Health Systems in Africa”, holding in Lome, Togo, from 22 to 26 August, 2022.
As Africa strives to recover from the deep felt impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, delegates examined the measures that have worked in achieving universal access to healthcare as well as the shortfalls.
They also explored ways to maintain essential services during outbreaks, investments and actions needed to ensure equitable access to quality medical products and health technologies.
Dr. Marie Khemesse Ngom Ndiaye, Senegal’s Minister of Health said: “The scope and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic put great pressure on Senegal’s health system. Thanks to (its) Resilience Programme and Investment Plan, Senegal’s health system has considerably strengthened disease prevention and management capacities.”
COVID-19 has not only exerted enormous pressure on health systems but also sounded the alarm on the need to reform and revitalise the continent’s health systems. Even as countries stepped up measures including surveillance, prevention, clinical care and vaccination in the wake of the pandemic, further efforts are essential to render the health systems more robust and resilient.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director to Africa said: “The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the fragility of our continent’s health infrastructure and the urgent need to strengthen the overall health system to secure access to quality care for all Africa’s people, when and where they need it, without incurring financial hardship.”
“Domestic investment in health, including health research, has significant economic returns, while promoting resilience and sustainability; healthy populations translate to healthy economies.”
The pandemic has also added to the African region’s existing health challenges. More than any other part of the world, the region responds to more than 100 health emergencies every year. During emergencies many countries face shutdowns of health programmes due to staff reassignments, supply chain disruptions as well as movement restrictions. These disruptions undermine progress towards universal health coverage and lay bare inequities in access to health care.
The special Lome event launched at the Regional Committee kicks off a collective process to support African countries as they ramp up efforts to recover from the pandemic-triggered disruptions and work to rebuild better their health systems. A series of consultations and actions will follow to support countries in achieving universal health coverage and health security.