By Sotunde Busayo
At the just concluded 61st session of the Africa Regional meeting of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Ivory Coast, some African countries endorsed the creation of the public emergency health fund otherwise known as the “African Emergency Health Fund,” pending the completion of the modalities for setting up the fund.
The meeting, which featured health ministers from the continent, endorsed the emergency fund in order for Africa to be self-reliant during crisis especially on health issues. The purpose of the fund is to mobilise additional resources for preparedness and response to outbreaks of diseases and other public health emergencies in line with Article 50(f) of the WHO constitution.
It will also promote solidarity among member states and supplement existing effort in addressing the continued occurrence of epidemic and public health emergencies.
The fund was also created to support African countries who may in one-way or the other be experiencing sudden disaster especially in issues relating to health.
The creation of the emergency fund was first introduced in 2009 regional meeting and was approved at the 60th session in 2010 at Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
According to the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health, Linus Awute, who represented the Nigeria delegation at the meeting “the health fund would assist countries trapped in sudden disaster which could be in for of natural disaster such as flood, earthquake, drought or any other outbreak of disease in some part of Africa.”
The fund will also help facilitate research on the mitigating climate change in Africa, which has already caused irregularities in the weather condition. The fund will be able to meet the needs that may arise as a result of the present climate change experienced in Africa.
The emergency fund is also believed to help jeer Africa countries towards health issues especially in achieving the Millennium developmental goals (MDGs) in 2015.
The Africa Regional director of WHO, Mr Luis Sambo also inputted that countries can start making voluntary donations of $50, 000 and above to the emergency fund since sudden disaster give little or no signal before sticking.
In support of the emergency fund, the South Africa Health Minister, Mr Aaron Motsoaledi, said that “countries should be self efficient and support the proposal because it is important. If the crisis that happen in Japan should happen in any country in Africa, the country will be extinct, but Japan handled it well because they were self sufficient, so we need this fund in Africa to help ourselves.”
The success of the establishment of the emergency fund will also eradicate African dependence on foreign donors during emergency. The establishment of the fund still needs approval from some head of states in Africa on the grounds that the operational modalities proposed by the technical committee must be looked into.
Meanwhile, African first Ladies and Health Ministers are hosting a side meeting in New York on the 22nd of September tagged “developing action plan for women’s health”. This is a different initiative from the United Nations high Level meeting on Non Communicable Diseases (NCD) to be hosted between 19-20 September this year.
We hope all these high level meetings will indeed yield results beneficial to the growth and development of the continent!