TOGO – The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has delivered a moving keynote address during the 72nd session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa currently taking place in Lomé, Togo.
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus emphasized that besides COVID-19, the African region is battling health challenges triggered by outbreaks of communicable diseases, humanitarian crises, climatic shocks as well as the rising burden of chronic disease.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called upon WHO Member States to make an urgent paradigm shift towards promoting health and well-being and preventing disease by addressing its root causes and creating the conditions for health to thrive.
The region’s foremost public health gathering held annually will discuss and agree on measures to lower the burden of diseases, seek ways to curb the drivers of ill health and endorse strategies to promote access to health services and people’s well-being.
Furthermore, WHO highlights that President of the Republic of Togo H.E President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé opened this year’s Regional Committee for Africa with African health ministers and government representatives in attendance.
“The Seventy-second session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa will be held in hybrid format in Lomé, Togo, from 22nd to 26th August 2022, under Special procedures for the conduct of the hybrid session of the Regional Committee for Africa,” highlights the United Nations agency.
The African region’s foremost public health gathering held annually provided a unique platform for Togo to be recognized as the first country in the world to be recognized by WHO for eliminating four neglected tropical diseases.
During the first session of WHO Regional Committee for Africa 2022, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus handed President Gnassingbé a certificate for eliminating four neglected tropical diseases including lymphatic filariasis, human African trypanosomiasis, trachoma and Guinea worm.
President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé acknowledged the appreciation shown for Togo’s achievement in eliminating the neglected tropical diseases while calling upon African health ministers and government representatives to confront ongoing health challenges.
“In Africa, we must act to guarantee access to quality health care for all, everywhere and at all times. Act to provide social protection and universal health coverage to all citizens, and act to put an end to counterfeit and poor-quality medicines. Clearly, we have much to do,” President Gnassingbé stressed.
Togo’s President disclosed that aftershocks of COVID-19 pandemic are inspiring new efforts to rethink and rebuild health systems to better withstand the impact of health emergencies as well as step up the quality and accessibility of health services.
At the same time, the African Union Commissioner for Humanitarian and Social Development Affairs H.E. Minata Samate Cessouma urged African government to invest in the health system in Africa as it is essential to achieve set development targets.
The African Union Commissioner for Humanitarian and Social Development Affairs further said that investing in the health system in Africa must be substantial and strategic for health and global economic security.
In addition, WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti outlined that equity is a key factor in health outcomes in Africa and globally, noting that nothing has better demonstrated the urgency of addressing it comprehensively and effectively than the COVID-19 pandemic
“Inequity is a key driver of vulnerability to disease and illness. I would like to urge that we collectively address it at the center of our health action,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti stated.
Around 700 participants including representatives from United Nations agencies, nongovernmental organizations, civil society, academia and development partners are attending either in person or virtually the five-day meeting in Lomé.
WHO highlighted that Africa’s top health forum will focus on measures to lower the burden of diseases, seek ways to curb the drivers of ill health and endorse strategies to promote access to health services and people’s well-being.
In addition, the World Health Organization said that Ministers of health and delegates at the Regional Committee will discuss and endorse key strategies and launch campaigns on disease prevention.
The agency explained that the health authorities and officials will endorse measures to strengthen emergency response and promote the use of technological solutions to tackle health challenges, building on lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic response.
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