The WHO Regional Director for Africa ,Dr Matshidiso Moeti, has called on all African leaders to live up to the SDG pledges they made in 2015, and also commit to concrete actions of responsive Health systems through Universal health coverage .
She made the call in a speech which was delivered by WHO country representative to Nigeria ,Dr Wondi Alemu,
He said the organisation was icommitted to supporting Member States to achieve Universal health coverage ,and the attainment of the SDGs.
“We have developed a framework of actions to assist countries in selecting their own path towards achieving both UHC and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We have also developed a flagship programme geared towards providing integrated and holistic support to countries through implementation support, a regional learning programme for UHC ”
He further noted that Universal health coverage help in assuring access to health care services ,irrespective of the status or position in the society .
“UHC means ensuring that everyone ,no matter where they live or who they are ,can access essential quality health services without facing financial hardship.
It is a powerful equalizer that ensures Health for All, enhances health security, reduces poverty and promotes gender equality”
The WHO regional director said Effective leadership and high-level political commitment are critical to achieving UHC.
“Adequate and sustained investment in health is necessary for ensuring equitable access to health services
We are calling on Countries to strive and improve health governance and information systems to ensure better regulation, planning and accountability to the communities and partners”
“Several countries in the Region, including Burkina Faso, Burundi, Ghana, Liberia, Senegal and Uganda, have demonstrated that removing user fees systematically increases utilization rates of health services. “Rwanda’s health insurance scheme expanded access to quality health services for poor people from 7% in 2003 to 91% in 2010.
Member States should also address the persistent challenge of inadequate health workforce. Ethiopia exemplifies how investment in health workers, and specifically community health workers, contributes to improved delivery of essential health services”
Dr Moeti stressed on the need to reduce the occurrence of noncommunicable diseases, address new threats such as SARS, H5N1, and tackle epidemics like Ebola and cholera.
While addressing the challenge of antimicrobial resistance and substandard and falsified medicines.
The WHO regional director disclosed that since August 2016,the region have not reported a case of wild Polio virus ,compared to 2012,when Africa accounted for 50% of Polio cases globally .
“Access to treatment and essential services has improved. For the first time, more than half of all people living with HIV in Africa (14 million) have access to life-saving HIV treatment. Between 2010 and 2016, new cases of malaria dropped by 20% and there were 37% fewer deaths due to malaria. Moreover, in 2016, the risk of developing pneumonia and meningitis reduced for nearly two thirds of children on the continent because they were vaccinated, compared to only 3% in 2010″he added ”
On his part,WHO Health Economist, Dr Francis Ukwuje,noted that the federal ministry of health had identified primary health care centres as the link of providing universal health coverage to Nigerians and the vehicle through which it can be achieved its the Basic health care provision fund .
“We are providing basic health care services to poor people in the community ,and we are pioneering the project in three states ,which include ,Abia,Niger ,and Osun state.
He further hinted that for the programme to be fully implemented ,the state health insurance scheme would be established so there won’t be need for payment before accessing health services .
“The federal government is working with partners to ensure the success of the programme”
The World Health Organization celebrates World Health Day on the 7th of April every year.This year’s theme, “Universal health coverage (UHC): everyone, everywhere”is reinforcing the need for access to health care services for all citizens .
“It also marks the 40th anniversary of the Alma Ata Declaration of 1978 which called for health for all by the year 2000.”he added.