72nd session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa ends

By Abigirl Tembo, Health Editor

Regional health ministers and representatives who were meeting in Lomé, Togo, for the 72nd Session of the World Health Organisation’s Regional Committee for Africa have endorsed several regional policies, activities and financial plans to improve people’s health and well-being.

For five days, African health ministers and experts gathered in Lomé in search of lasting solutions to the continent’s fight against non-communicable diseases which continue to wreak havoc across the continent.

One of the strategies which was adopted at the meeting is a package of essential non-communicable disease interventions (PEN-plus) which addresses severe non-communicable diseases at first level referral health facilities.

According to Vice President, General (Retired) Dr Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the Health and Child Care Minister, Zimbabwe is already implementing the strategy.

“You will be aware that we had the health posts and then we had the clinics but from the clinics there was a big gap up to the district hospitals and this was causing a lot of problems for people for them to get service. For example, those suffering from diabetes were not getting their medication and so, as Zimbabwe we have now recognised these issues and we have now developed between the clinic and district hospital there are now two levels, the 20 bed hospital, 2 theatres.

“So, the individual does not have to go to the provincial hospital. They will get most of their requirements there. We are also going to be constructing 60 bed hospitals which are again facilities to be used before one gets to a district hospital and these will have more facilities to cater and therefore these non-communicable diseases like cancer and diabetes somebody will be able to get services and medication before going to the provincial hospitals. We are putting up 30 of those facilities in the country and this will be used to deal with the non-communicable diseases so that we reduce the volumes of people visiting the Provincial hospitals,” he said.

Some of the strategies which have been adopted include the updated regional strategy for the management of environmental determinants of human health in the African region, framework to strengthen the implementation of the comprehensive mental health action plan as well as the regional strategy for health security and emergency which are all aimed at ensuring universal health coverage.