TThe World Health Organisation executive board has formally appointed Dr Matshidiso Moeti — Botswana national but South African-born — for a second, five-year term at the helm of the organisation’s Africa region. Moeti pledged to work on accelerating regional efforts towards the attainment of universal health coverage.
At the start of her first term in 2015, Moeti set up the regional universal health coverage flagship programme aimed at promoting concrete country actions to ensure that everyone can access the care they need without financial hardship. In February 2019, African heads of State, at the annual summit in Addis Ababa, launched an initiative to increase investment in health to achieve universal health coverage.
The continent continues to face significant health challenges, but progress is being made, for example, in strengthening health systems, combating diseases and improving people’s health. Policies to tackle tobacco use, vaccines for cervical cancer and malaria prevention and joint initiatives to procure medicines affordably are among the recent efforts by Member States to lighten disease burden.
During her first term, Moeti promised to champion the transformation of the regional office to improve accountability and efficiency. She has since won recognition for improving the financial accountability of WHO in the region. Going forward, Moeti has vowed to ensure that WHO in the African region continues to be accountable by deploying the right staff with the capacities and competencies to support Member States.
In addition, she will focus on increasing investment in innovation, including encouraging digital health initiatives as well as doing more to ensure communities have better access to life-saving interventions such as immunisation and backing the efforts by Member States to tackle difficult health challenges.
Moeti is a public health veteran with more than 35 years of national and international experience. She joined the WHO Regional Office for Africa in 1999, where she has served as deputy regional director, assistant regional director, director of noncommunicable diseases, WHO representative for Malawi, coordinator of the inter-country support team for the South and East African countries and regional advisor for HIV/Aids.
She is renowned for having led the WHO 3 by 5 Initiative in the African Region at the height of the Aids epidemic, resulting in a significant increase in access to antiretroviral drugs by people living with HIV. Through her leadership the African region has now gone for more than three years without a wild polio virus case and Moeti is determined to ensure the region is certified free of wild polio by the end of June 2020.WHO material