ECOWAS to accelerate Universal Health Coverage by 2030

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Modaso Health Centre
Modaso Health Centre

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), through the West Africa Health Organization (WAHO), the subregional health institution, seeks to accelerate access to Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in member states by 2030, an official said here Thursday.

Stanley Okolo, the Director-General of WAHO, said this at the opening of the high-level ECOWAS Universal Health Governance Summit and Extraordinary General Assembly of Health Ministers of ECOWAS.

He said the WAHO Vision 2030, which aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, was geared towards keeping with the mandate of WAHO in a rapidly evolving health ecosystem.

“The new subregional health sector vision, the WAHO UHC 2030, is broadly framed around three main goals, and the first goal is to accelerate access to and availability of inclusive and affordable quality health services,” said Okolo.

With that, he said West Africa would move towards health and well-being, with an eye on universal health coverage, nutrition, obesity, and ensuring that children have vaccinations and their health and well-being prioritized while treating illnesses and diseases and setting up centers of excellence.

He said the remaining goals of the WAHO UHC 2030 framework sought to ensure efficient public health emergency preparedness and response capabilities across the ECOWAS subregion, strengthen WAHO’s institutional processes, and promote organizational excellence.

“We have seen the outbreak of epidemics in the subregion, including COVID-19, laser fever, dengue fever, and Cholera, which have even killed more people.

Ebola has come and gone. So, it is vitally important that we have an eye on how we prepare, on surveillance and how ready we are to respond rapidly to some of these threats,” added Okolo.

The three-day summit drew health ministers and other health officials from 12 of the 15 ECOWAS member states.

Notwithstanding the successes of WAHO in the past, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, Ghana’s health minister and chairman of the committee of ECOWAS health ministers, said the subregional body continued to face challenges, including the lack of both human and financial resources and limited central oversight and regional coordination.

“WAHO is also challenged by bureaucracy and lack of agile emergency response mechanisms, which among other things created the need for a new strategic direction, hence the Vision 2030 document,” said Agyeman-Manu.

He urged that the final document that comes out should address the health needs of the subregion and achieve the goal of “leaving no one behind”. Enditem

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