TOGO – According to the World Health Organization (WHO), African health ministers have approved the Regional Strategy for Health Security and Emergencies covering 2022 to 2030 aimed at reducing the health and socioeconomic impacts of public health emergencies.
The Regional Strategy for Health Security and Emergencies 2022–2030 was endorsed by African health ministers during the Seventy-second session of the World Health Organization Regional Committee for Africa in Lomé, Togo.
The strategy focuses on strengthening mechanisms for partnerships and multisectoral collaboration, ensuring sustained and predictable investment and repurposing resources from polio eradication and COVID-19 to support strategic investments in systems and tools for public health emergencies.
The new strategy is the fruit of extensive consultations with African health ministries and a range of other institutions, technical actors and partners across the continent aimed at protecting the world against future pandemics.
Prior to the emergence of COVID-19, the top causes of epidemics in the region were cholera, measles, yellow fever, meningococcal meningitis, influenza and viral haemorrhagic fevers, most of which are preventable by strengthening routine immunization.
By adopting the strategy, Member States agreed to reach 12 targets by 2030 which will strengthen their capacity to prevent, prepare for, detect and respond to health emergencies including all countries having 80% of health districts with functional service delivery and quality improvement programmes.
Other targets for WHO Member States include 80% of Member States having predictable and sustainable health security financing along with 90% of Member States mobilizing an effective response to public health emergencies within 24 hours of detection.
Member States also agreed to commit political will and provide technical leadership, mobilize resources, provide adequate human and logistic resources to implement the new strategy as well as to strengthen a One Health coordination mechanism and build capacity at the national and decentralized levels.
Furthermore, Africa health ministers approved the new eight-year regional strategy to transform health security and emergency response in the region following the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on fragile health systems.
“WHO has recently launched a flagship initiative to assist countries in operationalizing the newly-adopted strategy and it is currently being rolled out in five early implementation countries across the region: Botswana, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Togo,” WHO disclosed.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa emphasized that COVID-19 is a wake-up call for the African region to prioritize building resilient health systems capable of providing quality healthcare while coping with public health emergencies.
“There is a growing recognition of the mounting threat public health emergencies pose to global economies and societies, underlining the need for a One-Health approach and investing in prevention and preparedness,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti said.
WHO outlines that COVID-19 underscored the need to improve surveillance, diagnostics, treatment and a range of health services, noting that the African region reports the heaviest burden of public health emergencies, with more than 100 such events occurring annually.
The agency explained that the COVID-19 pandemic grossly overwhelmed health systems, interrupted essential health services and fueled socio-economic disruption threatening to undermine decades of hard-earned health and economic gains.
WHO estimates that up to US$4 billion is needed annually from international and domestic sources to fully fund core health security capacities in the region and better prepare for the next pandemic, adding that the additional funding and support works out to around US$3 per person a year.
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