Minister Heads Delegation to WHO Meeting As Nigeria Receives Commendation on Ebola, Polio
64th Session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa
The Minister of State and supervising Minister of Health, Dr. Khaliru Alhassan, is at the head of Nigeria’s delegation to the 64th Session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa which opened today, 03/11/2014, in Cotonou, the capital of the Republic of Benin.
Nigeria received recognition and glowing commendation for its efforts to combat the Ebola Virus Disease and Wild Polio Virus Type 1, from the World Health Organization, (WHO) Regional Director of Africa, Dr. Luis Gomes Sambo, at the conference which was officially opened by the President of Benin, Dr. Thomas Boni Yayi.
In his address, President Yayi stated that the regional meeting is holding at a time when the Ebola Virus Disease is posing serious challenges to the region and beyond, observing that the gathering of health experts was an opportunity to discuss the most efficient way to eradicate the disease. He commended the international community for its research to find a vaccine for the Ebola Virus Disease and called for the deepening of cooperation of development partners in the Health Sector. He maintained that many of the successes recorded with respect to health indicators in Africa was due to the collaboration between governments, communities and development partners, especially the WHO.
While stating that “Health determines prosperity and development of our people,” he observed that the African continent contends with huge challenges in the health sector which can be addressed greatly by promoting private public participation (PPP) in the sector.
In her address, the Director General of the WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan, who also represented the UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, maintained that the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak is the most severe public health emergency in modern times. Dr. Chan advised African countries to strengthen their public health systems in order to meet the health needs of their citizens. In concluding her remarks she stressed that equity must be a policy of Governments, as according to Dr. Chan, “All nations profit from an Africa that is stable, prosperous and strong.”
In a message to the gathering, the UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, stated that the Ebola Virus Disease must have a global response and Health Ministers should ensure that preparedness plans are in place as the disease is killing people and destroying families and communities.
In her welcome remarks, the Minister of Health Benin, Professor Dorothee Kinde Gazard posited that the meeting will be tackling issues such as neglected tropical diseases and, “Things affecting the health of our people despite the progress in modem medicine.”
The WHO Regional Director of Africa, Dr. Luis Gomes Sambo, recalled that the meeting had been rescheduled because of the Ebola outbreak in some parts of Africa. He however pointed out, that in spite of the challenges, progress has been made in the health sector. In giving examples of some of the achievements in the region’s health sector, he disclosed that the prevalence of HIV/AIDs has decreased by 26%, while mortality rate on the continent has decreased by 62%. He commended Nigeria and Senegal, two countries in the region which have been certified Ebola free by the world health body.
On October 20, 2014, the World Health Organization certified Nigeria Ebola free, while the country has achieved remarkable success in the reduction of polio. As at October 10, 2014, there were 6 cases of Wild Polio Virus which were reported in 2 states of the Federation compared to 49 cases in 9 states for the same period last year representing 88% reduction in cases.
One of the important items on the agenda of the 64th Session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa is the nomination of the new Regional Director for Africa.
Ayo Adesugba (Mrs.)
Director Press & Public Relations
3rd November, 2014