Jan 12, 2009, 6:35 AM
July 9, 1987 – July 9, 2012, 25 years ago, Heads of State and Government of the West African region motivated by a common vision adopted the protocol establishing the West African Health Organisation, a Specialised Health Institution born of the merger between the Francophone Organisation for Coordination and Cooperation for Major Endemic Disease Control (OCCGE) and the Anglophone West African Heath Community (WAHC).
Like in the previous years, it is my honor to address you on the occasion of the 25th WAHO Day. It is fitting to remember in July of every year that decision whose multifaceted gains can be seen in the health sector. Beyond the memories and tributes earned, the time is ripe on one hand, to make our Institution more visible through the various events that all countries hold annually and on another hand, to promote a health theme that is common to us all.
For 2012 we would be reflecting on health information. WAHO has adopted the following theme for this year: “Reform of Health Information Systems: a challenge for informed decisions making at all levels of the ECOWAS Region”.
We are of the view that this is a topical issue for various reasons known and recognised by nearly everyone. There is an urgent need at present to offer significant improvements in the quality of national health information systems across the ECOWAS region because they are a fundamental component of health systems.
Reliable quality information remains the main foundation of any public health action, especially when resources are limited and there is a need for proper allocation of funds that are even likely to save lives.
In situations of emerging diseases, especially when they are serious threats to human health, it is critical to have consistent information for both the prevention of epidemics at national level, and the prevention of pandemics as well as adequate management of cases.
While considering health information a priority health intervention throughout the ECOWAS region, the West African Health Organisation intends to align themselves with the current international context, beginning with the need to monitor our countries’ commitments in relation to the Millennium Development Goals by fulfilling the requirements of the new International Health Regulations, complying with resolutions of the United Nations Special Session on HIV / AIDS, being involved in the international partnership for Roll Back Malaria and a lot of other initiatives.
In this context, WAHO’s direct involvement in strengthening national health information systems capacity is gaining awareness and a responsible way of toeing the only path leading to sub-regional integration and providing more visibility to the results of on-going efforts aimed at achieving the objectives of international commitments.
That’s why I call on all to take the path that will lead to the integration of health information at country level and its full utilization for sensitive and relevant decision making likely to promote the development of health systems and facilitate the prevention and control of diseases.
It is my fervent wish that countries in particular work together to derive more benefits from the use of limited resources, both human and financial for an Integrated Health Information System;
As for Partners, I urge them to line up with the priority needs expressed by countries. Indeed, the best way to support is to successfully meet the needs expressed by the one who makes the request. The reality in countries of the sub-region requires partners to undertake a concerted and coordinated effort.
Finally, I would hope that together we arrive at establishing, within a short time, health information systems that are strong enough, able to ensure the flow of quality information in order, among other things, to foster harmonization of policies, support the coordination of disease surveillance and response to epidemics, facilitate cross-border collaboration, promotion of best practices and adequate resource mobilization, etc.
I would like to conclude this address by acknowledging the individual and collective commitment of all ECOWAS Member States to health issues in general and particularly for their efforts in promoting quality health information despite our shortcomings.
WAHO would like to reiterate, through me, its appreciation and availability to all Honorable Ministers of Health of our region, and all partners for all the efforts made to ensure to our populations the welfare they so long for.
Long live the African integration
Long live ECOWAS
Long live WAHO
Dr. Plácido M. CARDOSO - Director General of WAHO