A technical team set up to oversee and provide guidance on the revision of the Africa Health Strategy 2007-2015 is meeting on 10- 11August in Durban, South Africa. Led by the African Union Commission (AUC) and comprised of the NEPAD Agency, WHO, UNFPA, UNAIDS, UNICEF and the South Africa Department of Health, the team is tasked with revising the Africa Health Strategy due to expire at the end of 2015.
The team is expected to ensure that the input made into the strategy takes into consideration lessons learned, opportunities, gaps and emerging issues, such as the recent Ebola outbreak and other communicable and non-communicable diseases that have threatened the health of the African people. The Strategy should also serve as a framework for dealing with existing health challenges and provide a broader post-2015 health policy direction.
Speaking at the opening of the meeting, the AUC Director of Social Affairs, Amb Olawale Maiyegun highlighted that the recent Ebola epidemic and the lessons learnt from its response underscores the need to strengthen national health systems as well as the disease surveillance and response systems at continental level.
"Being fully aware of the numerous interventions being put in place to address health issues in the post MDG era including efforts to revise the AU health policy instruments such as Maputo Plan of Action, African Regional Nutrition Strategy and Abuja Call among others; I can now confidently say - the time is ripe to revise the African Health Strategy,” said Maiyegun.
Presenting the input from the NEPAD Agency, Margareth Ndomondo-Sigonda, emphasized that the strategy should focus on the buildingblocks for strengthening health systems and improving health research. These included: leadership and governance issues; health financing; service delivery; humanresources for health; medical products, vaccines and technologies; health information systems and research for health.
“Innovation and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms should also be prioritized,” she noted.
The various institutions and organizations attending the meeting were given an opportunity to present their technical guidance and inputs into the strategy. Participants agreed that the strategy must also place emphasis on the health of children and women.
The NEPAD Agency will also on 12- 13 August lead discussions on preparation of the African Union Research for Health Strategy as a component of the Africa Health Strategy.
“Research for a health strategy for Africa is long overdue. At the meeting held in April this year, the African Ministers of Health requested the NEPAD Agency to coordinate the preparation of the strategy to ensure that there is a strong component of research and innovation in the public health delivery system of the continent,” remarked Prof. Aggrey Ambali, Head of the NEPAD Science, Technology and Innovation Hub.
At this upcoming meeting, the team will be joined by the African Academy of Sciences, the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership, the African Network on Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation and Regional Economic Communities.
The final Africa Health Strategy will be presented to the AUC-WHO Joint Meeting of Ministers of Health in Tunis in April 2016.
The Africa Health Strategy provides strategic direction to Africa’s efforts in creating better health for all and recognizes that Member States, regions and the continent have set health goals that they have committed to. It explores some challenges that militate against the continent decreasing the burden of disease and improving development and also draws on existing opportunities. It highlights strategic directions that can be helpful if approached in a multi-sectoral fashion, adequately resourced, implemented and monitored.