Why our financial, technical partners are critical to West Africa health security, by WAHO

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…as World Bank commits $500m to West, Central African health cause

The West African Health Organization (WAHO) has appealed to its technical and financial partner for further commitments towards the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for the sub-region.

According to the organization, the contributions of its partners over the years have been critical to meeting its objectives of coordinating the mitigation of health issues across the region.

Currently, Technical and Financial Partners (TFPs) funds account for 66% of WAHO’s 2023 budget, with community levy funds making up the remaining 34%.

The partners are also engaged in special health intervention projects in individual countries within the subregion.

Melchior Athanase Joël Codjovi Aissi, Director General of WAHO, highlighted the significance of partner commitments, especially considering the slow improvement in health indicators in some ECOWAS member states, which poses challenges to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

While declaring open the Forum of Health Partners in Abuja on Thursday, May 16, during the ongoing 25th Ordinary Meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Assembly of Health Ministers, Aissi emphasized the crucial role of Technical and Financial Partners (TFPs) in enhancing the health of the ECOWAS population, saying, “Improving the health indicators is slow and very sluggish in some of the ECOWAS Member States, thus making it difficult to be able to achieve the SDGs.

“These (TFPs) contributions have enabled WAHO to make remarkable progress over the years in all countries and the region, although challenges remain, both in terms of continuing to improve maternal and infant mortality rates by acting on the various determinants of vulnerability and the main causes and in terms of improving the pillars of the health system, particularly at the level of human resources for health”.

The DG advocated for a dynamic and transparent partnership that promotes dialogue and synergy of actions to avoid the loss of funds linked to the duplication of interventions.

He said: “I know that it’s the work you are doing on a daily basis towards supporting WAHO’s action for achieving the objectives that are part of its mandate in the ECOWAS for the well-being of the people of the Member States.

“The technical and financial partners, you have contributed alongside WAHO in implementing important activities that have had real effects on the health of the people of ECOWAS, and WAHO looks immensely grateful to you.

“The importance of your financial contribution in the activities you carry out is highly glorified through all these strategies mentioned above.

“We will have to set up, establish, or strengthen this strong consultation system that will enable us to carry out quality intervention at the community level, especially for primary health care and also in terms of prevention.

“This synergy will enable us to have a realistic use of resources with good collective verticality to invest little for important impact and results.

The World Bank representative at the meeting, Cesaire Ahanhanzo disclosed that the bank has commenced the commitment of a $500m 10-year project under its Health Security Program in West and Central Africa.

The new project that commenced early this year is succeeding the Regional Disease Surveillance System Enhancement REDISSE but with a wider scope and scale.

According to him, the programme’s first phase covers three countries and WAHO, being a coordinating regional body while the other countries in the regions would be covered in the subsequent phases.

“The World Bank has already committed $500m to support that new program which, compared to the previous one is broader in terms of scope and longer in terms of duration

“So we are expecting to have a second phase with new countries, West African countries, and a third phase with new countries.

“So at the end of the day by the end of next fiscal year, we expect to have all the African countries enrolled in the project”.

Saying that the health security of the West African region is important to the World Bank, Ahanhanzo noted, “So it shows the full commitment of the World Bank in terms of supporting health security, fighting communicable diseases both within the country and at the border of the countries.

“The cross-border support, cross-border surveillance, and preparedness is something that matters a lot and the World Bank is putting a lot of effort into support.

“But it goes beyond health security, we also support girl and women empowerment and demographic dividend with a new leg of financing.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also reiterated the need for increased synergy, investment, and accountability among partners to advance the goal of improving the health of the region’s population.

Rownak Khan, UNICEF Nigeria’s Deputy Representative, highlighted numerous opportunities for collaborative efforts in achieving universal health coverage and primary healthcare, particularly in addressing maternal and newborn health, child health and nutrition, human resources, and healthcare infrastructure, which are critical issues in the region.

“Therefore, we advocate for evidence-based practice, innovation, and accountability.

“At the end, I would like to call upon us to commit to investing in quality of care of health. We need to allocate resources, not only from the partners but from the national governments as well, to strengthen the health system,” she said.

“Therefore, we advocate for evidence-based practice, innovation, and accountability.

“At the end, I would like to call upon us to commit to investing in quality of care of health. We need to allocate resources, not only from the partners but from the national governments as well, to strengthen the health system,” she said.

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