African Health Ministers Adopt Resolutions To Improve Health As WHO Regional Meeting Closes

At the conclusion of the 59th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa, African health ministers agreed on four resolutions that aim to improve health on the continent, the Guardian reports. The regional committee adopted resolutions that deal with drug-resistance related to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria; malaria elimination in Africa; and preparedness and response for the current H1N1 (swine) flu pandemic. The fourth resolution deals with establishing high-quality institutions for disease surveillance, food and medicine regulation and other public health-related interventions, according to the Guardian (Ukwuoma, 9/8).

Rwandan Health Minister Richard Sezibera said although Rwanda had already implemented those resolutions, the country should “increase the level of progress on the different policies,” New Times/ reports. Oumar Ibrahima Toure, Mali’s health minister, said his government will focus on immediately addressing maternal mortality, which was one of the major issues raised during the summit. “The maternal death rates in Africa are very alarming despite progress attained in other areas. It is not right for a woman to die while giving life. So our health system will ensure increased interventions in curbing the death rate of mothers,” he said. Swaziland’s health minister said his country will emphasize dealing with HIV/TB coinfection (Nambi, 9/5).  

The next committee meeting is scheduled for 2010 in Equatorial Guinea (WHO/AFRO release, 9/4).

U.N. Special Envoy For TB Addresses Meeting

Jorge Sampaio, the U.N. special envoy for TB, addressed the meeting and highlighted HIV/TB coinfection and living conditions of women worldwide, which he said contribute to making TB “among the biggest killers of women in the world.” The speech reflected on TB control achievements and also outlined some of the major current challenges. Health-e published an edited version of the speech (9/7).

Citing Rwanda’s progress in its fight against HIV/AIDS after a meeting with President Paul Kagame, Sampaio said the country can lead Africa’s fight against TB. “Rwanda has demonstrated the capacity to deal with epidemics. The efforts are really appreciated. It has led the way in establishing a good healthcare system. TB and HIV/AIDS have been tackled profoundly and we think Rwanda can be a case study for the rest of the continent,” Sampaio said, New Times/ writes (Kagire, 9/4).

In a related story that examines tuberculosis in Nigeria and public misunderstanding about the disease, talks with experts about how to curtail TB’s spread and improve access to treatment that is free in many parts of the country (Adelaja, 9/5).

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