9 October 2017

Africa: WHO Director Acknowledges Achievements

World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti said despite many challenges that Africa faces there have been milestones that each and every country has achieved. She said there is still need for trained staff in different areas of each country, with only 11 countries in Africa meeting the threshold. She said this is not because there are no health practitioners as there are those who have graduated but are not working.

Dr Moeti said the available personnel is not evenly distributed which has resulted with a high concentration in cities. She said Africa needs people context specific health systems which are homegrown and innovative with a strong emphasis on prevention. She said it is important for Africa to adopt interventions that are specific to Africa because sometimes international interventions that are adopted from the western world cannot bring results in Africa. She revealed that Botswana has a hypertension prevalence rate of 35%. She said there is need to have a transformational agenda and make sure that other issues which seem to be taking over in the country are addressed. She said partnerships are vital in strengthening partnerships for health.

She emphasised that communicable diseases still remain a major challenge and contribution to the burden of disease in the region. "WHO plays a leading role in tackling diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases, but mediations for communicable disease are a must," she said. She gave examples of the countries that have introduced levies to make money that goes towards health like the alcohol levy which goes towards addressing health issues.

When asked on the use of traditional medicine Dr Moeti said there are many frameworks for traditional medicine but the problem is that they sometimes do not have enough information with regard to the use of such traditional medicine. "Sometimes it is just that we do not have enough knowledge of that and some people will not be open enough to be engaged on that level and about what to use and how," she said. She wants a regional health organisation that is foresighted, proactive, responsive, results driven, transparent, accountable, appropriately resourced and equipped to deliver on its mandate. Professor Kgomotso Moahi, UB Acting Vice Chancellor said they are very appreciative that despite her busy schedule she chose to still hold a lecture in the country that she comes from even though she does not serve only Botswana but the whole of Africa as well.

Moahi said it is important for them to have these lectures, and that is why they will continue to have a series of them on different issues. The public lecture was held under the theme 'Transforming Africa's Health: Leaving No One Behind'.

Dr Moeti is the first woman WHO Regional Director for Africa. She is a public health veteran with more than 35 years of national and international experience.

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