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WHO, WAHO move for better health in W’Africa

By Oludare Richards, Abuja
17 September 2021   |   4:08 am
The World Health Organisation (WHO), African Region and West African Health Organisation (WAHO) have identified major areas of collaboration for improved health in the sub-region.

Matshidiso Moeti

The World Health Organisation (WHO), African Region and West African Health Organisation (WAHO) have identified major areas of collaboration for improved health in the sub-region.

The move followed a hybrid meeting of high-level delegation, led by WAHO Director-General, Prof. Stanley Okolo, during a visit to WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, at WHO-AFRO Headquarters in Brazzaville, Congo.

Welcoming the team, Moeti stated: “Together we have helped to realise a number of strategic achievements. In my view, our five-year agreement has helped us to take a collective and comprehensive approach to improve health outcomes in West Africa. It’s clear that there is a huge amount of complementarities and synergies. There is the need to invest in monitoring and evaluation, as well as documenting what has been achieved.”

Responding, Okolo emphasised the need to maximise impact of joint activities through synergy, noting that it was necessary to mitigate the array of health issues facing the sub-region.

Their partnership over the past five years, according to them, has yielded significant milestones, including improvements in epidemic surveillance and response under the World Bank-funded Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement (REDISSE) project established in 2017, adoption and enforcement of tobacco control laws in Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Mauritania and the Gambia, as well as strengthening of regulatory capacity for food and non-alcoholic beverages in 11 ECOWAS states and tobacco tax reforms in Cape Verde and Nigeria.

The WAHO boss lauded the progress made in several joint activities, particularly the REDISSE project, which he stated, had enhanced national and regional cross-sectoral capacity for collaborative disease surveillance, preparedness and effective response.

“I understand the surveillance architecture in West Africa. Pre-Ebola was less advanced than pre-COVID19, which is a testimony to the benefits of working together to improve health security in the region. REDISSE really helped in terms of building national public health institutes across ECOWAS member-states and expanding the epidemiology workforce,” Okolo added.

On the global goal of 10 per cent COVID-19 vaccinations in Africa by the end of this month, Moeti discussed areas of possible collaboration with WAHO in assessing the situation of things in West Africa to determine whether the issue lies with funding or a misunderstanding of the degree of logistics required for an efficient vaccine rollout strategy.

She urged both parties to ensure that other diseases endemic to the region are not ignored during the time of the pandemic, particularly non-communicable diseases (NCDs).