FG tasks WAHO to address burden of communicable diseases in ECOWAS

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole (left) and Togolese Minister of Health, Prof Moustafa Midjiyawa at the 18th Ordinary Meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Assembly of Health Ministers at the body’s secretariat Abuja

ABUJA (Health Ministry’ Report)- The Acting President of Nigeria, Prof.Yemi Osinbajo has urged the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) to invest towards the reduction of communicable diseases such as Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS in the region.

Prof. Osinbajo made this declaration on Friday June 16, 2017 at the 18th Ordinary Assembly of the West African Health Meeting in Abuja.

Osinbajo noted that the recent outbreak of Ebola Virus disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo was a source of concern, adding that the West African sub-region must take positive measures to prevent its spread to other member states.

He called on WAHO to put in place a strong resilient health system, adding that the West African region should not be taken unawares again such an outbreak as it was in 2014 during the Ebola outbreak with colossal loss of lives, economic resources and threat to national survival.

Prof. Osinbajo observed that by the founding protocol, WAHO is entrusted with a political mandate by the Heads of States and Governments to ensure coordination of regional health intervention within ECOWAS region, adding that the vision of the founding fathers to see harmonized, unified response to the expanding health challenges of the sub- region had proved to be daunting as difference in language and system, procedures have thrown up peculiar difficulties.

He said that, this combined with poverty and malnutrition has thrown up public health challenges of immense proportion for the individual Nation States and the WAHO, stressing that the existing disparity among health standards, expertise and policies in the West African Sub-Region was a significant barrier to better health.

The lack of reciprocal recognition of regulatory process between the Anglophone, Francophone and lusophone countries was a constant threat to human resources mobility that, once removed, would allow quality and affordable medicines to circulate throughout the region as needed’’

In his remark, the Hon. Minister of Health, Nigeria, Prof. Isaac Adewole said that the Health sector should not be seen as consuming sector but a business venture, adding that there was need to strengthen the health system in the ECOWAS region.

He noted that in order to address the issue of shortage of vaccines, the Federal Government of Nigeria has signed MOU with May and Baker PLC on area of vaccines production in Nigeria.
He also stressed the need for ECOWAS to reciprocate the commitment of Nigeria by ceding more leadership role to Nigerians in WAHO.

Also speaking , the Director General of WAHO, Dr. Xavier Crespin said that WAHO was in talks with the European Union to see how EU can assist in the strengthening the health system in the region ,especially in the area of tacking Non- communicable diseases in West Africa.

He further said that the organization’s strategic plan for 2016-2020 was aimed at improving the health of our communities within this period and also to reduce the high rate of maternal and child mortality in the region.