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African Health Ministers plan for escalation of quality healthcare

Quicker response to infectious and chronic diseases, and increased urgency to reach critical targets by 2030 to strengthen their ability to prepare, detect and respond to health emergencies, were some of the agreements reached at the week-long World Health Organisation’s 72nd Regional Committee for Africa in Lome, Togo (22-26 August).

At the annual event, attended by more than 400 people from 47 countries, there was unanimous approval for the adoption of a new strategy for creating more resilient public health systems in responding to infectious and chronic diseases, such as diabetes.

The WHO regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said the Ministers have also launched a new campaign to curb sickle cell disease – one of the most common, yet least recognised illnesses in the region, reports VOA News. However, like childhood TB, she says it has been pushed to the sidelines for far too long.

“As with COVID-19, the impact of sickle cell disease extends well beyond health, posing significant economic and social costs for patients and their families. We cannot afford to continue ignoring the threat, so greater investments, and stronger collaboration and partnerships, need to be prioritised,” said Moeti. “Childhood TB also does not typically receive much attention, even though one in every three TB cases among children globally occurs in our region.”

Both require timely diagnosis and treatment, as do other diseases, like monkeypox, that go largely ignored until they make headlines elsewhere, she added.

Currently, 406 cases and seven deaths have been confirmed across 11 African countries. While these are far fewer cases compared to other geographic regions, she says there is a need to increase the response.

She noted the shortage of monkeypox vaccine, and that whatever was available was being used in wealthier countries, where the epidemic was raging. She said no monkeypox vaccines or antivirals are available on this continent.

“We are making a plea that the situation we have experienced with COVID-19 vaccines should not be repeated. And we are still hopeful that with advocacy being carried out and the discussions with countries that are helping to produce the vaccines that we may obtain vaccine supplies for African countries.”

Regarding COVID-19, she said vaccination rates were increasing among health workers, older people, and those at risk of severe illness, hospitalisation and death.

 

VOA article – African Health Ministers Approve Plan for Quality Health Care (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Africans living longer but spend those extra years in poor health

 

Gene therapy: A game changer for those with sickle-cell disease

 

COVID-19 pandemic should not divert attention from the needs of children and adolescents in TB-endemic African countries

 

Africa CDC in discussions to obtain monkeypox vaccines for the continent

 

 

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