WHO Tasks African Leaders On Improving Health Systems

By Unknown - September 21, 2017

Would Health  Organization

African leaders were admonished on Tuesday by the World Health Organization (WHO) to address seriously, matters pertaining to the improvement of health systems in the continent.

  Speaking on behalf of the organization was Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa. The statement was said in Abuja, Nigeria.

Highlighting the rate of disease outbreaks in Africa, she says the continent still carried 25 percent of the world's disease burden, but when it comes to health expenses, the continent consumes less than one percent of the global health expenditure. Dr Moeti said that presently, one third of Africans do not have regular access to the medicines they need.

Dr Moeti ascribed this to inadequate access to quality medicines and also the cost of drugs which are very high, bearing in mind that without the united efforts to address this issue, the continent cannot achieve universal health coverage. She said that more efforts are needed in the areas of medicine governance that lack of infrastructure and resources, and inadequate technical capacity.

Also speaking regarding the issue was Dr Suzanne Hill, the WHO Director for Essential Medicines and Health Products, who said in the statement that many vital medicines were missing from pharmacy shelves especially in rural areas. According to Dr Hill, the continent also has  problems of substandard and falsified medicines entering distribution chains; and because of the high cost of medicines and health care services, many households often go without other necessities in order to pay for medicines and health care. 
“We need our countries to set up stronger health systems and ensure that all communities are accessing the medicines and health technologies they need, when they need them, at an affordable price and at the right quality standard. 
 “Basically, we need African governments to take seriously issues of access to essential medicines and health technologies and invest time and resources into these programmes and we need technical and financial support.   

 “A five year project to increase access to medicines in 15 African countries ends this month with some important achievements but also many challenges ahead. “This project brought about many improvements such as greater availability to the child-friendly medicines particularly for HIV, TB and malaria, faster registration for some vital medicines in countries and progress towards universal health coverage.
 “With the project coming to an end, the project partners will meet in Zanzibar from 19 to 21 September to take stock of achievements and devise a way forward,” Dr Moeti said. 

She continues saying that the five-year project, focused on strengthening pharmaceutical systems in the African continent by achieving improved availability and supply of vital medicines in national, regional and community health facilities. It also sought to achieve lower cost of medicines and improved mechanisms for financing and for coverage of essential medicines in social protection schemes. 
 She said that the project also focused on improving the quality and safety of medicines, reducing the occurrence of substandard medicines and medicines that pose health risks. Other aims of the project included improved access to reliable information on countries’ pharmaceutical policies and practices, improved medicines selection, prescribing, dispensing and use. Dr Moeti said the project also aims at achieving enhanced transparency and good governance of the pharmaceutical system in the countries.

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