The African continent needs to devise ways of building resilient health systems against growing threats such as the impacts of climate change, health sector leaders said Monday at the opening of a global forum on health in Rwanda’s capital Kigali.
Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, acting director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), said building resilient health systems on the continent requires more investment.
“We know that multilateral systems have not always delivered equitably for us, and the COVID-19 pandemic served as a poignant reminder of Africa’s ranking within the hierarchy of global health,” he said.
“While we acknowledge that African countries must also take responsibility for their role in underinvesting in their health systems, we must also recognize that African-led solutions to African challenges still require some level of global support because there can be no global health security if Africa continues to be left out.”
Ouma mentioned the need to address health threats facing Africa and beyond more holistically, adding the “current dispensation in delivering health to the continent is not sustainable.”
Sabin Nsanzimana, Rwanda’s health minister, noted that global climate change, which is affecting clean air, safe drinking water and food, is continuously imposing serious health threats for people.
Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, said there is an urgent need for Africa’s health agenda to prioritize climate action.
“Healthcare investment is crucial for our economy, communities and national security, not a mere financial burden on the social sector,” she said.
The 5th edition of the Africa Health Agenda International Conference (AHAIC) is being held under the theme “Resilient Health Systems for Africa: Re-envisioning the Future Now.”
Participants including policymakers, technocrats and thought leaders will explore how African countries can foster regional cooperation by creating common guidelines, governance structures and regulatory procedures to harmonize health systems and climate adaptation and mitigation measures across the continent.
The conference is reportedly the first global health forum held in Africa with a focus on mainstreaming climate into health policymaking and vice versa.
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