Plan for quality health care in Africa approved at top WTO meeting in Togo
African health ministers attending the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 72nd Regional Committee for Africa — a top annual health gathering in the region — in Togo’s capital Lome have approved an eight-year strategy aimed at curbing disease and responding quickly to health emergencies.
After a week of discussions about some of Africa’s most pressing health issues, countries adopted a new strategy for creating more resilient public health systems for responding to infectious and chronic diseases, such as diabetes. The WHO says early diagnosis and care could save the lives of many of the millions who die from the diseases. The plan also commits countries to reach critical targets by 2030 to strengthen their ability to prepare, detect, and respond to health emergencies.
The WHO regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, says the ministers also have launched a new campaign to curb sickle cell disease. She notes it is one of the most common, yet least recognized illnesses in the region. However, like childhood tuberculosis, she says it has been pushed to the sidelines for far too long. Moeti says both require timely diagnosis and treatment, as do other diseases, such as monkeypox, that go largely ignored until they make headlines elsewhere. She notes there is a shortage of monkeypox vaccine and whatever is available is being used in wealthier countries, where the epidemic is raging. She says no monkeypox vaccines or antivirals are available in African countries.
Moeti also welcomed says better news regarding COVID-19 coverage in Africa where vaccination rates have been going up among health workers, older people, and those at risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death. While there is still much to be done, Moeti says she believes it is possible for African countries to catch up with the rest of the world.