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Gambia to Celebrate WAHO DAY

Jul 8, 2008, 7:05 AM | Article By: By Pa Modou Faal

The Gambia will join rest of the world to celebrate West African Health Organization (WAHO) day on Wednesday at the Medical and Health Grounds in Banjul.

This is the first time for WAHO to celebrate the day and the theme for the celebration is "Health and Nutrition for a Sustainable Development".

According to the WAHO Liaison officer at the Department of State for Health and Social Welfare, ALH Omar Taal, "the celebration is basically to improve the visibility of WAHO in member countries that is why DOSH will observe the day with a family gathering commencing at 9am."

Mr Taal stated that WAHO was formed in 1987,when the Heads of State and Government from 15 countries in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) adopted the protocol creating the organisation. The protocol, which was subsequently ratified by each government in the sub-region, grants WAHO status as a specialised agency of ECOWAS and describes the organisation mission as follows,

"The objective of the West African Health Organisation shall be the attainment of the highest possible standard and protection of health of the peoples in the sub-region through the harmonisation of policies of the member states, pooling of resources, and co-operation with one another and with others for a collective and strategic combat against the health problems of the sub-region.

Mr. Taal added that the driving force behind WAHO's creation was the incongruence of the agendas that were being pursued by the two existing intergovernmental health organisations in the sub-region. These were the Francophone Organisation de Coordination et de Cooperation pour la Lutte Contre les Grandes Endemies (OCCGE) and the Anglophone West African Health Community (WAHC). "It was determined that, as matters of health are not bound by linguistic difference, it would benefit the organisations to synchronise their efforts and combine resources to enhance the impact of their programmes in West Africa. Thus, the OCCGE and WAHC merged to form WAHO; an organisation committed to transcending linguistic borders in the sub-region to serve all 15 ECOWAS Member States. In October of 1998, the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government established Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso as the site of WAHO Headquarters and appointed the Organisation's Director and Deputy Director. In March of 2000, WAHO began active operations as a leading health authority in the sub-region, serving ECOWAS Member States Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo," he said.

The occasion will be graced by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Welfare Dr Malick Njie among other high profile dignitaries within and outside the health system.