Nairobi – African Health Ministers meet for the resumed Seventh Session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Local Committee for Africa, this week took stock of the region’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, with calls to step up vigilance and make a possible effort to revive infections.
At the opening of the meeting, Jacqueline Mikolo, Minister of Health and Population, Republic of the Congo and Chair of the Seventy Regional Committee, called for increased high-level political commitment, solidarity, exchange of information and research on traditional medicine in the fight against COVID- 19.
Minister Mikolo reiterates “our commitment to maintain the profits achieved and work hard and together contain a possible second wave COVID-19 in Africa.” She also noted that it is crucial to fight ‘self-sufficiency’. [in observing COVID-19 preventive measures] by strengthening communication and epidemiological surveillance. ‘
Most African countries acted quickly early on, and these efforts to restrict movement and gatherings, as well as the implementation of key public health measures, helped keep cases and deaths in Africa lower than in many other parts of the world.
WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, emphasized the importance of promoting prevention, especially when people travel or gather for celebrations at the end of the year. “As we see cases rising in parts of Europe and the Americas, and an increase in our local daily case graph, we can not be complacent. We must prepare for a revival, including scaling up precautions in risky situations such as festive and election-related events. “
Over the past three weeks, the African region has recorded a steady increase in COVID-19 cases. On November 22, 18 countries reported an increase of more than 20% in the previous seven days compared to the last seven days.
“We all need to be vigilant with our testing, isolation and treatment, and our strong communication on the non-pharmaceutical interventions,” Hon said. Lia Tadesse Gebremedhin, Ethiopia’s Minister of Health and Second Vice-Chair of the Seventyth Regional Committee. “The COVID-19 pandemic is a crisis that no one else has experienced in our lifetime, but it can be a catalyst for building the safer, healthier and more sustainable Africa we all want.”
During the special occasion on the COVID-19 response in the WHO-Africa region, which took place during the regional committee, the South African Minister of Health honored. Zweli Mkhize shared lessons from his country’s experience in fighting the virus. The Minister emphasized the need for involvement at the highest levels for rapid, evidence-based decisions, the timely use of innovative technologies, cooperation in the public and private sectors and addressing the socio-economic impact of the pandemic, especially among the most vulnerable groups.
‘Right now we are going through this COVID-19 fatigue, both from communities that are tired of wearing masks and [observing physical] distance. We also have health workers who have been [through] a heavy burden, and now the revival is coming, and they also show much fatigue. These are the areas we need to stay focused on, “said Minister Mkhize.
WHO has taken a series of actions to support countries in preparing to introduce new COVID-19 vaccines, including the release of new vaccination guidelines and planning and the creation of a new vaccination tool of COVID-19 for vaccination and readiness evaluation for African governments.
The virtual meeting continued with the discussions starting online on August 25th. More than 200 delegates and civil society representatives took part in the deliberations, which also covered the WTO program budget for 2022-2023.
The regional committee meeting is the annual meeting of the WTO Africa’s governing body, which brings together health ministers and senior officials from all 47 member states of the WTO African Region. The seventy-first session of the Regional Committee will be held in 2021 in Lomé, Togo.