Africa: Who Africa Regional Director Gets New Term, Vows to Step Up Universal Health Coverage

WHO Africa Regional Director gets new term, vows to step up universal health coverage

Brazzaville, 3 February 2020 - The World Health Organization (WHO) Executive Board today formally appointed Dr Matshidiso Moeti for a second, five-year term at the helm of the organization's African Region. Dr Moeti pledged to work on accelerating regional efforts towards the attainment of universal health coverage.

"I am greatly honoured to have been appointed to serve a second term as the WHO Regional Director for Africa and I would like to thank you for the trust you have shown," said Dr Moeti. "As Africa increasingly faces the double burden of diseases, the next five years in public health will be crucial in laying a strong foundation to reverse this burden."

"This will only be positive if we accelerate action towards achieving universal health coverage in the African Region, ensuring that no-one misses out on health care because the cost is too high, the quality is too low, or because of geographic or other barriers to accessing care," Dr Moeti said.

At the start of her first term in 2015, Dr Moeti set up the regional universal health coverage flagship programme aimed at promoting concrete country actions to ensure that everyone can access the care they need without financial hardship. In February 2019, African heads of State, at the annual summit in Addis Ababa, launched an initiative to increase investment in health to achieve universal health coverage.

The continent continues to face significant health challenges, but progress is being made, for example, in strengthening health systems, combating diseases and improving people's health. Policies to tackle tobacco use, vaccines for cervical cancer and malaria prevention and joint initiatives to procure medicines affordably are among the recent efforts by Member States to lighten disease burden.

During her first term, Dr Moeti promised to champion the transformation of the regional office to improve accountability and efficiency. She has since won recognition for improving the financial accountability of WHO in the region. Going forward, Dr Moeti has vowed to ensure that WHO in the African Region continues to be accountable by deploying the right staff with the capacities and competencies to support Member States.

In addition, she will focus on increasing investment in innovation, including encouraging digital health initiatives as well as doing more to ensure communities have better access to life-saving interventions such as immunization and backing the efforts by Member States to tackle difficult health challenges.

"It will take a village to achieve all that we are aiming for and I am thankful for the frank and supportive collaboration with our Member States and many partners," said Dr Moeti.

Dr Moeti is a public health veteran with more than 35 years of national and international experience. She joined the WHO Regional Office for Africa in 1999, where she has served as Deputy Regional Director, Assistant Regional Director, Director of Noncommunicable Diseases, WHO Representative for Malawi, Coordinator of the Inter-Country Support Team for the South and East African countries and Regional Advisor for HIV/AIDs.

She is renowned for having led the WHO 3 by 5 Initiative in the African Region at the height of the AIDS epidemic, resulting in a significant increase in access to antiretroviral drugs by people living with HIV. Through her leadership the African region has now gone for more than three years without a wild polio virus case and Dr Moeti is determined to ensure the region is certified free of wild polio by the end of June 2020.

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