Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Health Ministers of the African Union (AU) have urged member States to ride on the successes recorded in curtailing wild polio and Ebola virus spread in the continent through surveillance, trained staff members and routine immunisation to address other health emergency outbreaks.
The Director Media and Public Relations, Ministry of Health, Mrs. Boade Akinola, in a statement saturday, said the decision was reached at the first coordination meeting of Member States of the African Continent in preparatory for the 70th World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting scheduled to start on Monday, May 22, in Geneva, Switzerland.
Akinola said the body believed that the gains from various investments in controlling wild polio could be effectively and efficiently deployed for other health related purposes.
She said the meeting, which was chaired by the WHO AFRO Regional Director, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, also emphasised the need to strengthen the health system especially by addressing the human resource gap, acceleration of local production and supply of vaccines in Africa to meet the urgent local demand.
The meeting, she said, noted that the 70th WHA meeting has many agenda items that has bearing on Africa, and as such agreed to carefully articulate Africaâ€™s position on all of them to maximise the collective gains for the continent.
Akinola stated that the meeting also commended the prompt response of the WHO RD to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), by visiting the country to assess the Ebola outbreak situation, and called on member States to step up surveillance.
She stated that the representative of the AU and Director of Social Affairs H.E Mrs. Amira ElFadil also assured that AU was determined to move forward the African Health agenda by mobilising resources for better healthcare financing, addressing the vulnerability of the continent to preventable diseases, building a resilient health system for Africa as well as supporting the African Centre for Disease Control (CDC) to effectively handle diseases like Malaria, Yellow Fever, Ebola, Meningitis and so on.
She said the Director also emphasised the need for an effective African Union Volunteer Workforce. She also encouraged member states to pay attention to developing accurate data that would inform policy and appropriate health interventions in the continent.
In the same vein, the Spokesperson said Nigeriaâ€™s Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, also used the opportunity to commend the WHO RD for helping Nigeria mobilise resources to address the recent detection of wild polio infection in the North-east of the country and meningitis outbreak in some states of the country.
The minister, she said, assured the gathering that the federal government of Nigeria was determined to put these health challenges behind and move on to prevent future occurrence.