Washington, DC — On April 26, 2016, CFA President Mel Foote and Jessica Rockwood, the Chair of the CFA African Healthcare Infrastructure Committee(AHIC), presented to approximately 35-40 African Ambassadors and other Diplomats at the African Union Mission in Washington, DC to provide additional background of the African Healthcare Infrastructure Initiative being undertaken by CFA and launched at the AU Mission in February 2015.
The session was opened by HE Ambassador Bockeri Stevens (Sierra Leone) and HE Ambassador Serge Mombouli (Republic of Congo) followed by Mel thanking the chairs and audience. Mel provided an overview of CFA for context and the African Healthcare Infrastructure Initiative generally. Jessica congratulated the Ambassadors on the work that had been undertaken by their respective countries in reaching many of the health MDGs, but especially MDGs 4, 5, and 6, which led to a reduction of cases in hospitals and clinics. However, as many countries in Africa are now increasing their income states towards Middle Income, many countries are now grappling with increased Non-communicable Diseases (heart disease, diabetes, etc.) and Health Security and preparedness issues, while preparing for the Sustainable Development Goals in an environment of reduced funding by donors.
Jessica went on to discuss the definition of Healthcare Infrastructure – human resources, equipment, pharmaceuticals, surveillance, preparedness, facilities, etc. - and the need to engage the African Diplomatic Corps to understand what specific issues they are facing in order to advocate for increased funding enabling the betterment of health, reduction in household expenditure and increased economic benefits to countries - to name a few. The goal of the engagement would be to hold follow-on meetings to assess the best case practices and needs of countries that can then be presented to international funding partners such as the World Bank and US Government during the CFA 2016 Ron Brown Series being held in September 2016.
There were a number of questions by Ambassadors. Mel and Jessica responded by explaining the role of CFA and how the partnership would work and agreed that messaging would and could be developed on issues such as donor coordination, which is a challenge to many countries. Lastly, one very good suggestion provided was that the CFA/AHIC organize a peer-to-peer forum where countries could engage each other on best case practices.
Several Ambassadors expressed interest in engaging. Jessica will be communicating with the UN Foundation to request their engagement to hold the 1st meeting of the Diplomatic Corp and possible funding. A conference call of the AHIC will be scheduled following that discussion, in furtherance of the planning for the 2016 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series Health Forum.