GROUP Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Amref Health Africa, Dr Githinji Gitahi, has underscored the importance of making Africa’s health delivery systems more resilient, to be able to deal decisively with future pandemics.
Dr Gitahi pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic had exposed Africa’s health systems and so in the event of yet another pandemic, “Africa must have the right structures, it must have robust disease surveillance and laboratory systems to ensure that, “we have an adequate response that will protect lives and livelihoods.”
According to the Amref Health Africa Group CEO, “the last two years have been difficult for Africa as the experiences of the loss of lives, loss of livelihoods readily come into sharp focus for Africans.”
He wondered if Africa would be ready for a recurrence of happenings in the past two years.
Amref Health Africa is Africa’s leading health Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), working with communities in 35 countries to secure the right to health and break the cycle of poverty.
Amref has teamed up with the Ministry of Health in Rwanda, the African Union and Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) to convene the fifth edition of the Africa Health Agenda International Conference (AHAIC) 2023 to be held in Kigali from March 5-8th.
The conference is themed “Resilient Health Systems for Africa: Re-envisioning the Future Now”.
Dr Gitahi who is a strong believer in Africa’s socio-economic development noted that Africa was far from ready should happenings in 2020 reoccur in future.
“We have challenges with health financing, We do not have what it takes to respond to pandemics, we do not have the right structures, hence the need to engage health experts and researchers from Kenya and across the world for lasting solutions,” he stated.
Dr Githati pointed out that climate change was affecting how disease patterns are going, noting that “we have more outbreaks on the continent than ever before, higher frequency, increased regularity.”
Climate change is changing how diseases like malaria and other ailments spread and affect communities, “so we have to re-imagine the future health systems now.”
He stressed the importance of the Africa Health Agenda International (AHAIC) in finding solutions to the teething challenges in Africa’s health
Confirming Dr Githati’s submissions, the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB), an independent monitoring and accountability body to ensure preparedness for global health crises has in a statement noted that the world is overshadowed by the risk of pandemics.
The statement issued in Geneva on February 22, 2023, said “H5N1 is circulating widely in global animal populations, m-pox remains a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), outbreaks of Ebola have happened regularly, coronaviruses continue to pose a threat of spillover, and the COVID-19 pandemic is still causing devastation across the world. Yet worse may be in store. While we cannot tell the precise form that it will take, we do know that the next pandemic is coming.”