The region’s health systems and prevailing challenges in the health sector will be deliberated upon beginning today during the inaugural Africa Health Forum of the World Health Organisation.
The summit gathers high level officials, including African ministers of Health and finance, UN Agencies, intergovernmental agencies, academicians, civil society players, philanthropic foundations and the private sector among others.
The two day summit largely aims at looking into challenges in the African health care sector as well as deliberating best practices.
According to Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organisation regional director for Africa, the forum will discuss the future of healthcare across the continent as well as implications to the social economic welfare of citizens.
Among topics that feature prominently include health financing, research and innovation, universal health coverage among others.
In an exclusive interview with The New Times at the weekend, Dr Moeti said that the regional healthcare system is largely characterised by heavy disease burden and weak health care systems.
“For a long time we have been having a burden of communicable diseases. There has also been outbreak of epidemics such as cholera, Ebola, among others. Communicable diseases have been going down in Africa but at the same time we are seeing a sharp rise in non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, cancer, among others,” she said.
Despite the prevailing challenges, she observed that there is a chance for the continent to redeem itself through ways such as adopting technology and improving efficiency.
The forum also comes in the background of a rising rate of non-communicable diseases which has caused public concerns due to cost of treatment and qualifications of medical personnel.
Dr Moeti noted that the subject will feature prominently as they seek to improve financing, increase insurance coverage and get governments to pay attention to the ailments.
“The financing for non-communicable diseases is not where it should be, especially in treatment. The international community needs to do more by negotiating to bring down the cost of treatment of lifestyle diseases,”
“People also need to get health insurance. Governments now ought to pay enough attention to non-communicable diseases. We know that this is the trend in terms of disease burden,” she said.
For the Rwandan government, the forum presents an opportunity to learn from other countries on ways to improve the performance of the local healthcare system.
Dr Diane Gashumba, the Minister of Health said that the forum is a chance for Rwanda to address some health sector challenges from the experience of other partners.
“We understand the importance of the issues that will be discussed at the conference and decisions that will be adopted upon its conclusion. Rwanda still has some issues to address in health and this will be a good opportunity for us to interact and learn from other countries’ experience in improving our health system,” the Minister said.