WHO to focus on adolescent health in Africa

The World Health Organization (WHO) said it would focus on  adolescent health and creating regional emergency hubs in Africa for the next two years.

Dr. Matsidisho Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, said in a statement in Abuja that this is the next phase of the organization’s reform programme for the region.

She said the organization in 2015 started the programme in the wake of the Ebola crisis in West Africa, adding that its achievement in handling the crisis had set the stage for it to focus on other reforms in the region.

Moeti said that it is time for the organization to implement the next phase of changes to improve the health of people in the region.

At the start of my tenure two-and-a-half years ago, I committed myself to instituting reforms at WHO in the African region.I am proud of what we have achieved as part of the transformation agenda in that time frame.

She said the time has come to make the necessary changes so as to improve the African people’s heath in general. Following the implementation of the transformation agenda, there has been significant progress in the effectiveness, timeliness and efficiency of actions in support of countries in WHO’s Africa region”,  she said.

“For example, WHO was key to the following achievements: ending Ebola virus disease in West Africa and controlling a large scale urban yellow fever outbreak in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Responding quickly to the polio outbreak in Nigeria and organizing sub-regional Ministerial Declaration as a public health emergency in 2016. Conducting risk-mapping of epidemics in the region for evidence-based preparedness and training over 180 experts on outbreaks and emergencies management.

Supporting scale-up access to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria interventions in 18 countries by partnering with international organizations from October 2015 to December 2016 via the `Implementation Through Partnership’ project.

Issuing the first Africa Region Nutrition Report, highlighting opportunities and challenges for countries to contribute to achievement of global nutrition targets and monitor their own progress.

She said also a regional WHO collaborating centre on Sickle Cell Disease was established in Lagos, Nigeria.

She added that WHO-AFRO is putting in place 13 mandatory changes, many of them linked to specific health targets that each WHO country office must implement in the next two years. They include HIV treatment, NCD prevention and control plan and Reproductive Maternal Newborn Children and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH) plan development and many others.

She said that at the end of the two years, the organization hopes to measure its contribution toward improving the health of each and every African through the support of each country’s own efforts.

The statement said Moeti had launched the transformation agenda in 2015 to re-establish WHO’s credibility and health leadership in Africa.

It  also said the reform programme is a vision and a strategy for change aimed at facilitating the emergence of the WHO that the staff and stakeholders want.

According to the statement, the reforms have so far focused on five interrelated and overlapping priorities, including improving health security and strengthening national health systems.

Other priorities are sustaining focus on the health-related Sustainable Development Goals; addressing the social determinants of health and transforming the African Region into a responsive and results-driven one.