African health ministers have adopted a new eight-year strategy to transform health security and emergency response on the continent.
The Regional Strategy for Health Security and Emergencies 2022-2030 was adopted in Lome, the Togolese capital, at the 72nd session of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Committee for Africa, the organisation said.
The member states agreed to reach 12 targets by 2030 to strengthen their capacity to prevent, prepare for, detect and respond to health emergencies, including 80 per cent of member states having predictable and sustainable health security financing.
Other agreements included 90 per cent mobilising an effective response to public health emergencies within 24 hours of detection, and all countries having 80 per cent of health districts with functional service delivery and quality improvement programmes.
“Prior to the emergence of COVID-19, the top causes of epidemics in the region were cholera, measles, yellow fever, meningococcal meningitis, influenza and viral haemorrhagic fevers, most of which are preventable by strengthening routine immunisation,” the WHO noted.
It added that COVID-19 underscored the need to improve surveillance, diagnostics, treatment and a range of health services in Africa.
According to the WHO, up to $4 billion is needed annually from international and domestic sources to fully fund core health security capacities in Africa and better prepare for the next pandemic.
WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said that COVID-19 was a wake-up call for the African region to prioritise building resilient health systems capable of providing quality healthcare while coping with public health emergencies.