Gambia hosts 19th Ordinary Assembly of ECOWAS Health Ministers

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Health officials within the 15 member states of the West Africa have converged on Monday in a local hotel in Banjul for the 19th Ordinary Assembly of ECOWAS Health Ministers on the theme: ‘Universal Health Delivery.’

The gathering brings together health personnel annually to put forward matters that will help to mitigate health burning issues within the ECOWAS region.

Addressing the liaison officers of member countries, the director general of West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO) Prof. Stanly Okolo said: “Our region has suffered a chain of diseases and outbreaks Lassa Fever, Rift Valley Fever, Yellow Fever, Dengue Fever, Ebola  and others in recent times not forgetting Communicable Diseases that claims dozens of lives each year.”

These according to Prof. Okolo, are more reasons why the region needs to strengthen its health system. “All these brought to the fore the urgent need for us to strengthen our health systems as well as surveillance, preparedness and response capacities,” he said.

He said it is against this background that the 47th Ordinary Session of the Authority of  ECOWAS Heads of State and Governments decided to establish the ECOWAS Regional Centre for Surveillance and Disease Control (RCSDC} with its headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria.

He further said the centre is operational but more work needs to be done to make it fully operational to enable it to play its full role in epidemics prevention, preparedness, detention and response in the region.

There are over 300 million people within the ECOWAS block and WAHO as the body responsible for health issues in West Africa is tasked by heads of governments to curb down health problems the region is faced with.

“Obligation on WAHO from the founding fathers who are the heads of government is that we must strive to maintain the highest possible standards of health and health care for the region and that’s what we are going to be doing,” the WAHO director general said.

The 5 day Ordinary Assembly will end on Friday after which member countries are expected to come up with agreements to be approved by their various ministers in the respective countries before any implementation.

Author: Sankulleh Gibril Janko