The World Health Organization (WHO) has partnered with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) on an African Parliamentary High-Level Conference to strengthen health security preparedness.

The first-ever official African Parliamentary meeting on health security conference was held in Accra in parliament at the D. F. Annan Auditorium on Wednesday,8 November 2023.

This conference aims to provide a forum for Parliamentarians from national parliaments in Africa to exchange ideas, build political support, strengthen capacities, and foster coordination in driving sustainable action for global health security.

The meeting is also anticipated to enhance the role of Parliamentarians in strengthening health security and building health system resilience for the future of their countries.

Engaging the media after the conference at the Kempinski Hotel, the African Region Regional Director, Dr Matshidiso Moeti underscored the key role of parliamentarians in driving the health security agenda.

She explained that WHO is determined to engage African parliamentarians on health to fully exercise their unique role in supporting the government and the people to have good health outcomes in their various countries.

On that basis, a good very start-off meeting has been held with some experts including Ministers of health joining in to initiate the briefing to parliamentarians and outlining the particular health issues that are to be discussed which are of global concern following the outbreak of the pandemic.

According to Dr. Moeti, it is time to ensure that the world is better prepared for the next pandemic, and at the same time when there is a pandemic or an epidemic, the health system is robust and not the kind of negative impact recorded with services not available due to the preoccupation and some of the conditions imposed by the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

To that extent, WHO she elaborated has the objective to reinforce parliamentarians who are already active in this area by making it regular as well as ensuring that they have specific information that is needed around the issues of pandemic preparedness, ensuring their systems are robust and resilient and able to continue to provide health services to people even as they react to the pandemic.

Honorable Martin Chungong, Secretary General of the IPU, giving a remark also noted that COVID-19 and other pandemics had caused loss of lives and suffering, particularly in Africa, a reason why concentrating efforts on prevention and preparedness were required.

He expressed worry at how health systems could no longer cope with outbreaks, a range of health services were disrupted, with individuals and families became sick and no longer able to contribute to their communities and economies, putting hard-won socio-economic gains at risk.

Mr Chungong pledged the commitment of the IPU to mobilize the Parliamentary community to be more involved in the processes of pandemic accord negotiations.

According to him, while health preparedness required legislation, ratification, and budget it was important to see how Parliaments could play a role upstream during the negotiating process.

By: Mary Quartey


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