WHO Urges Gvts To Prioritize Health Workers

THE World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director, Dr Matshidiso Moeti has urged governments in SADC region to prioritize welfare and well-being of health personnel as they are the backbone of the health sector.

By Michael Gwarisa

Speaking at the 69th session of the World Health Organization Regional Committee for Africa, Ministerial gathering to shape Africa’s Health Agenda in Brazzaville, Dr Matsidiso said, “health workers were a precious resource not only to their families, but to communities, to national development and to international security and we must do more to protect them.  The best health services are delivered by well-trained and equipped staff working closely with the communities that they serve. This is the basic idea of primary health care and is essential to achieving universal health coverage.

The attainment of UHC, as it is often called, is the highest priority for WHO. No person should suffer financial hardship because of the cost of needed health care.

She added that while out-of-pocket spending has decreased in the Region – this is spending from people paying for health services directly when they go to a clinic or hospital– when they are most in need of care, service coverage in Africa is low compared to other WHO regions, meaning that there is a high “unmet need” in the Region, of people not accessing health services because they cannot afford to pay.

“In the past year, we have had significant discussion, including at the African Union Summit, on health financing. We have considered ways of working with the private sector, and the need for innovative approaches to protect low-income households that are unable to contribute to health insurance.

“Many countries are implementing health financing reforms. For example, Zambia passed their national health insurance law in 2018 and South Africa is also working towards national health insurance coverage and many other minsters are here were have discussions in Cameroon, in Togo, in Rwanda, in Burundi are working hard to ensure national health insurance for their populations.”

She also added that attaining Universal Health Coverage (UHC) was not an easy task but urged governments to be vigilant and resilient of challenges.

“This acknowledge that this is not an easy area of work and we are looking forward to hearing from countries this week on the progress being made towards UHC.  Thanks to the collective efforts of governments, partners and civil society, we are continuing to make progress on key communicable diseases. 

“In terms of disease eradication, we are on the verge of an historic moment: It has been three years almost to the day, since the last reported wild poliovirus case in Africa and we are working towards certification of having eradicated wild poliovirus in the Region, hopefully early next year. Still, we must do more to put a stop to outbreaks of vaccine-derived poliovirus, now present in 11 of our Member States.”

Meanwhile, she added that access to HIV services has expanded significantly: in the past six years, the number of people on antiretroviral therapy for HIV has more than doubled in the last six years.

“As a Region we are recording some of the fastest declines globally in new cases of tuberculosis, even as we must work harder to prevent the emergences of drug resistance. We need to do more to control hepatitis: only 11 countries have implemented hepatitis B birth-dose vaccination. And I encourage all Member States to expand access to hepatitis vaccination, diagnosis, as well as treatment.

“I would like here to commend Algeria for having been declared malaria free in May of this year and to acknowledge Ghana and Malawi for leading the piloting of the first malaria vaccine to reach young children. These are tremendous achievements.”

She however said, with the increase in malaria cases in sub-Saharan Africa, the affected Member States should implement WHO’s high impact, high-burden strategy so that together we can get on-track towards eliminating malaria.

Related posts

Leave a Comment