Africa urged to unite in tackling health problems
Rwanda’s Minister of Health Sabin Nsanzimana has called on African countries to unite in their efforts to strengthen health systems and address climate-related health challenges.
Nsanzimana said this ahead of the fifth edition of the Africa Health Agenda International Conference (AHAIC) 2023 taking place in his country’s capital Kigali from March 5 to 8.
The biennial conference has attracted African stakeholders in health, climate and development to foster regional collaboration and create a unified position on climate action and health system resilience ahead of this year’s United Nations General Assembly (Unga) and the Conference of the Parties (CoP).
“If we are to address the emerging threats at the intersection of health and climate change, African countries must present a united front at global health and climate forums.
“We need to have one message for one Africa when we present our asks and demands at Unga 78 and CoP 28 because it is only then that we can influence the global policy changes required to meet the needs of the African people,” Nsanzimana said.
AHAIC 2023 has been jointly convened by Amref Health Africa, Rwanda’s Ministry of Health, the African Union and Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
The conference is expected to provide a platform to bring global attention to the link between climate change and health as the world inches closer to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals deadline.
“We know that multilateral systems have not always delivered equitably for us and the Covid pandemic served as a poignant reminder of Africa’s ranking within the hierarchy of global health.
“While we acknowledge that African countries must also take responsibility for their role in underinvesting in their health systems, we must also recognise that African-led solutions to African challenges still require some level of global support because there can be no global health security if Africa continues to be left out,” Africa CDC acting Director Ahmed Ogwell Ouma said.
Concurring with Nsanzimana and Ouma, Amref Health Africa Group Chief Executive Officer Githinji Gitahi stressed the need for Africa to build more equal partnerships and unite to drive a common African agenda on climate and health.
“In doing so, we can address the emerging twin threats of climate crises and future pandemics in a more sustainable manner, including by strengthening primary healthcare and addressing the social determinants of health that are impacting the wellbeing of populations across the continent,” Gitahi said.
AHAIC 2023 is taking place under the theme ‘Resilient Health Systems for Africa: Re-envisioning the Future Now’.
Alick Ponje is a features writer at The Times Group. He graduated from the University of Malawi with a bachelor’s degree in education, majoring in literature in English. Follow him on Twitter @aponje