CategoriesAfNHI Blog GFAN Africa

Domestic Resource Mobilization as a Pathway to Achieving Sustainable Health and HIV Financing in Africa

On 4 December 2019, on the sidelines of ICASA, WACI Health in partnership with GFAN Africa and civil society partners organized a meeting at the Marriott Hotel, in Kigali, Rwanda to discuss sustainable health financing in Africa. The meeting was opened by Honorable Dr Nyemazi Jean Pierre the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health in Rwanda who welcomed participants to the meeting on behalf of Dr Diane Gashumba, the Minister for Health. Dr Nyemazi emphasized Rwanda’s commitment to health, noting that Rwanda’s UHC coverage is at 95% as he urged other countries in Africa to invest more domestic resources so that the continent achieves the desired health outcomes.

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In his remarks, Hon Yoweri Ssebekali, a Member of Parliament in Uganda & Member of Uganda TB Caucus emphasized the need for Governments to take ownership of the health of their citizens. By investing more domestic resources, and allocating these resources where there will be the biggest impact. He stressed the need for a strong focus in primary healthcare.

Shu-Shu Tekle Haimanot of the Global Fund Secretariat, Maurine Murenga of the Lean on Me Foundation and Dr. Marrie Goretti in their remarks underscored that domestic resources for health are key to ensuring everyone has access to effective, efficient and affordable healthcare whenever they need it.

Civil society then presented a statement to Dr Nyemazi, articulating the need to make further progress to defeat HIV and to sustain the gains made to date. “African Governments particularly, must urgently address HIV within the context of health and even more broadly in the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to ensure the health and wellbeing for all. Broadly in the sense that Governments must address health in the context of non – health dynamics which affect health such as education and climate change. For example, globally, almost 60% of new HIV infections among 15-24 year olds were contracted by adolescent girls and young women. Investing in the education of girls, and keeping them in school will significantly keep them healthy”. Read the statement.

Further, civil society noted that “we are at a point in time when donor funding for health in Africa is shrinking. In the absence of adequate funding for health, citizens in African countries have to pay for healthcare services from their pockets. In some countries, citizens are spending up to 40% of their household budgets to pay for healthcare.” The statement emphasized the need for Governments to put every possible effort in allocating adequate domestic resources for health, which will contribute to achieving UHC.

CategoriesGFAN Africa

Young Women and Girls Urge for Comprehensive Healthcare Services Amid COVID-19

On 12 November 2020, Positive Women Together in Action an organization in Eswatini held a roundtable discussion jointly organized with GFAN Africa on the impact of COVID-19 on young women and adolescent girls living with HIV. During the conversations, the young women and girls shared their experiences on accessing treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 33 participants from various support groups from different communities in the four regions of Eswatini spoke about the impact of COVID-19 on women and AGYW living with HIV.

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On a positive note, the multi-month dispensary of ART medication was implemented. Participants felt this was a positive impact of COVID-19 because before the pandemic they used to visit the healthcare centres for their refill and the cost was catastrophically high for them.

The young women and girls appreciated the food parcels and COVID-19 grant support being provided by the Government through the National disaster Management Agency (NDMA) and other organizations while others received financial support, which has never happened before the pandemic.

Discussing the negative impact of COVID-19, participants noted that there was an increase in the number of cases of gender-based violence during the lockdown period. “Partners spent their days together and started realizing each other’s shortfalls and this led to violence within homes” noted Thabisile Mavimbela. Stress, trauma, depression and general mental health challenges led to increased cases of gender-based violence.

‘’I have seen that our health sector has neglected other health conditions. Health workers deliver ART medication to our homes but why don’t they bring medication for other conditions so that they deliver a comprehensive service?’’ asked Cebsile Shabangu during the conversation.

The Government of Eswatini must sustain focus on all life threatening diseases amid COVID-19.

CategoriesBlog WACI Health News

TICAD VII: African leaders commit to reducing childhood stunting and all forms of malnutrition

Yokohama, 30 August 2019. TICAD is a platform for discussing important issues related to Africa’s development, and a process that allows all TICAD partners — African Union Member States, Japan, co-organizers and other development partners, private sector and civil society — to come together for the further development of the continent.

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The Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 which accompanies the The Yokohama Declaration 2019, lists actions expected to be implemented by the TICAD partners in order to promote focus areas of the three main pillars of the Yokohama Declaration 2019 adopted at TICAD 7.

As per the Yokohama Plan of action, African leadership has prioritized nutrition and with support from the government of Japan has specifically committed to reducing childhood stunning and all forms of malnutrition. According to the action plan, the Africa Regional Nutrition Strategy 2015-2025, is the African Union flagship initiative within which this commitment will be realized.

We at WACI Health join other civil society organizations in applauding the African leadership for their commitments towards improving health and nutrition outcomes in the region.  However, we are concerned that despite recent gains in addressing and lowering malnutrition on the African continent, many African nations are still facing increasing rates of childhood stunting and wasting.

The Continental Nutrition Accountability Scorecard is worrying with many member states lagging being on their nutrition targets. For example, we note with great concern that only two member states are on track on stunting targets.

We call upon the African leadership to act urgently towards increased investments in nutrition and deliver on their nutrition targets and commitments.

Contacts:

Rosemary Mburu- rosemary@wacihealth.org

Fitsum Alemayehu- fistum@wacihealth.org

 

CategoriesGFAN Africa

IL EST URGENT D’AGIR

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#LEMOUVEMENTCONTINU

Pour vaincre la COVID-19, protéger les progrès contre le VIH, la tuberculose et le paludisme, et sauver des vies : NOUS DEVONS NOUS UNIR POUR LUTTER !

La COVID-19 a frappé et perturbé la santé, les écoles, les entreprises, les voyages, les cultes religieux, et les moyens de subsistance des citoyens. Nous avons dû changer nos comportements sociaux. En sortant de chez nous, nous devons porter un masque et nous devons toujours laver les mains. La COVID-19 nous a rappelé que nous devons d’abord assurer notre santé pour pouvoir faire face aux autres aspects de notre vie. La santé publique est une condition préalable à la stabilité sociale, économique et politique. Cela nous emmène à souligner que l’investissement pour les services de santé centré sur les besoins des populations pour prévenir, détecter et combattre les maladies est une nécessité pour le développement.

Les gouvernements doivent donc augmenter leurs investissements dans la santé.

Lorsque les pays ont été mis en quarantaine, l’accès aux services de santé a diminué. Les populations craignaient de se rendre dans des établissements de santé lorsqu’elles tombaient malades par crainte d’avoir la COVID-19. Selon un article du journal 360 Afrique, au Cameroun les consultations dans les hôpitaux ont chuté de 41.2% pour les mois de février, mars et avril 2020 par rapport à la même période en 2019 ; le taux d’hospitalisation quant à lui a chuté de 28 ,5%. Cette crainte de la COVID-19 dans les établissements de santé a entraîné la possibilité d’une incidence accrue d’autres maladies telles que le VIH, la tuberculose et le paludisme, affaiblissant ainsi nos systèmes de santé.

Les services de lutte contre le VIH, la tuberculose et le paludisme ont été largement perturbés pendant le confinement. Un rapport de modélisation du partenariat Halte à la tuberculose indique que l’incidence mondiale de la tuberculose et les décès dus à cette maladie en 2021 augmenteraient pour atteindre des niveaux qui n’ont pas été observés depuis 2013 et 2016 ; Ce qui implique un recul d’au moins 5 à 8 ans dans la lutte contre la tuberculose en raison de la pandémie de COVID-19. Aussi, selon un rapport de l’ONUSIDA, la lutte contre le VIH pourrait encore reculer de 10 ans voire plus. Là où la COVID-19 a provoqué de graves perturbations c’est dans les programmes de prévention du paludisme qui ont été interrompus, notamment par la distribution tardive des moustiquaires.

Les écoles ont été fermées pendant des mois et heureusement elles réouvrent progressivement. Pour les filles non scolarisées, cela peut signifier un risque accru d’exploitation sexuelle, de grossesse précoce, de mariage forcé et d’infection par le VIH. Plus une fille reste longtemps en dehors de l’école, moins elle a des chances d’y retourner. Le niveau de risque est énorme.

Les pays doivent alors se concentrer sur la meilleure façon d’accélérer le rétablissement des services de santé, afin de réduire le fardeau de la COVID 19.

Les mesures visant à atténuer l’impact de la COVID-19 sur le VIH, la tuberculose et le paludisme devraient impliquer une combinaison d’engagement intensif de tous les acteurs et de maintien de la sensibilisation à l’importance des services pour vaincre ces trois maladies tout en dégageant la réponse au COVID-19. Les programmes doivent identifier et traiter les inégalités entre les sexes dans la conception de leur réponse. Une approche consiste à faire participer les femmes de manière significative, en soutenant les services de soins de santé primaires nécessaires pour réduire la mortalité infantile et maternelle, et en soutenant les soignants qui sont pour la plupart des femmes. Les obstacles à la santé liés au genre doivent être supprimés.

En outre, alors que nous nous attaquons à la COVID-19, les gouvernements, la société civile et les partenaires  doivent s’assurer que la réponse au COVID-19 comprend des stratégies et des leçons tirées de la lutte contre le VIH, la tuberculose et le paludisme et que des ressources sont allouées à cette fin. Les droits de l’homme doivent être protégés ; la stigmatisation et la discrimination doivent être combattues. Les ressources disponibles pour la COVID-19 doivent garantir un accès équitable au dépistage, à l’analyse et au traitement. Lorsqu’un traitement et un vaccin sont trouvés, ils doivent être accessibles à tous, partout et gratuitement pour que personne ne soit laissé pour compte.

Cela nécessite une solide collaboration mondiale pour accélérer le développement, la production et l’accès équitable aux nouvelles technologies de prise en charge et de traitement de la COVID-19, VIH, TB, Palu.

Enfin, la COVID-19 ne sera pas la dernière pandémie. La prochaine pandémie doit nous trouver mieux préparés, prêts à disposer de systèmes de santé solides et résistants, axés sur les soins de santé primaires et fondés sur des systèmes de santé communautaires solides. Un système fondé sur les droits équitables, centré sur les personnes et conscient des autres facteurs qui affectent la santé et le bien-être, tels que le changement climatique, l’alimentation et le logement.

Pour obtenir ces succès, les gouvernements doivent investir des ressources nationales supplémentaires dans le domaine de la santé afin de reconstruire un avenir plus sain et plus sûr. Les gouvernements doivent également considérer la santé comme un investissement dans le capital humain en réalisant que la santé est un facteur clé du développement de notre pays.

Nous devons nous unir pour lutter et continuer le mouvement pour des soins de santé efficaces, effectifs et abordables pour tous, et partout.

Les organisations de la société civile signataires :

GFAN AFRICA, CS4ME, ISA, APDSP CAMEROUN, PHICC, OFIF, AFEDEC CAMEROUN, AJECP CAMEROUN, SIDAF, AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, FONDATION MOJE.

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CategoriesGFAN Africa

Sustaining Africa’s Health Gains in the Face of COVID-19:

8th October 2020

We, the undersigned health advocates from across Africa, welcome the Inaugural African Union (AU) Biennial Joint Meeting of Ministers of Health and Finance for Eastern and Southern Africa Regions. We applaud African Union for the leadership on the ALM framework and commitments, which has laid a foundation for Domestic Financing agenda in Africa.

This framework recognises that Africa’s human capital development cannot solely be supported by external partners. It also demonstrates Africa’s leadership towards increased and efficient investments in health. Around the world, COVID-19, has led to an economic contraction. On average, Africa’s economy is forecast to contract by about 4% in 2020. Given significant revenue shortfalls, most governments are responding to the crisis by increasing spending mostly financed by increasing debt.

Several countries have also introduced tax policy measures (including tax cuts and deferrals) to counter the economic effects of Covid-19. We welcome the temporary debt relief through a reduction in debt financing obligations in 2020 by international debt actors. The suspension of debt service payments from official bilateral creditors through the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) between May and December 2020 has allowed beneficiaries to reallocate spending to health and other Covid-19- related areas.

We recognise that prior to the pandemic, there was a high degree of variation across Africa and within regions, in per capita levels of public spending on health. We are concerned that most member states had not met the recommended health investments threshold of 5% of GDP; 15% of total Government Total Expenditure; $86 per capita. Our concern is not only on health spending in 2020 but also on what may occur in 2021 and future years as government spending falls and normal debt servicing resumes. We therefore submit the following perspectives:

  1. Governments will need to raise additional revenues. This will require building more effective tax systems. Those with the broadest shoulders will need to bear more of the burden, whether through administrative reforms to improve collection, or through changes in tax policy. The efficiency of the tax system can also be improved through the expansion of environmental taxation and cutting wasteful subsidies and tax expenditures (Granger, et al., 2020).
  2. Ministries of Finance will need to take measures to maintain higher levels of government spending and reallocate funds towards the health sector. In countries where per capita expenditures are falling overall, funds will need to be reallocated to the health sector if health spending is not to fall in the midst of a global pandemic. Whilst all sectors tend to consider themselves under-funded, Ministers of Finance will have to assess the needs of the health sector, and whether it is potentially underfunded relative to others.
  3. Health Ministers will need to better allocate and make better use of funding within the sector. Better priority-setting can help focus spending on the most efficient and effective programmes (Glassman et al., 2017). Reforms to expenditure management can ensure that frontline service providers have sufficient flexibility to respond to the new conditions and improve performance (Barroy et al., 2019). Advocates urge AU Ministers to put tighter systems to manage corruption– we have heard of corruption cases that are on the rise over CODIV-19 tenders across Africa. Ministries of Health will need to improve the value-for-money of spending at a time when the overall fiscal position is strained.
  4. Governments will need to address social barriers to equitable access to health services. With COVID-19 pushing millions into extreme poverty, the economic shocks — and disruptions to health, nutrition, and education systems – have multiplied the devastation of the pandemic well beyond the direct impact of illness from the virus. There is a need for a powerful, equitable response to the pandemic that protects the poorest and most marginalized communities. This includes ensuring that gender and human rights barriers to equitable access to services are addressed. Ensure that savings from the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) are reallocated to health and other Covid-19-related and that spending goes where the most need exist to ensure investment in basic needs for the most vulnerable. Once the urgency of addressing the health crisis subsides, African governments will need to focus interventions on mitigating the lasting economic damages of the Covid19. To preserve labour productivity, there is a need to continue human capital accumulation including health, nutrition and education.
  5. Need for greater health R&D investments. The AU Health Research and Innovation Strategy (HRISA) 2018-2030 underlines the need for country-led health research and information management systems to inform disease surveillance, preparedness and response in the event of an epidemic emergency. The Policy identifies the need for “a paradigm shift” to establish effective disaster preparedness and response management systems at continental, regional and country levels. In this sense the impact of the COVID crisis itself provides a powerful demonstration of the need for greater health R&D investment. We urge you to ensure an enabling environment for health research by establishing and/or strengthening a legal and policy framework that will nurture scientific careers, protect research subjects and ensure that research findings translate to health policy, product development, manufacturing and commercialization.

 

As communities and civil society, we are committed to our role on accountability in ensuring that Africa builds back better. We urge for more meaningful inclusion and engagement of communities as critical stakeholders in planning and financing.

  1. Global Fund Advocates Network (GFAN) Africa
  2. Africa free of New HIV Infections (AfNHi)
  3. WACI Health
  4. East African Network of AIDS Service Organizations (EANNASO)
  5. Hope for Future Generation, Ghana
  6. Journalists Against AIDS, Nigeria
  7. Community Working Group on Health, Zimbabwe
  8. CITAM+, Zambia
  9. Health promotion Tanzania (HDT)
  10. Human Rights Empowerment Program, Malawi
  11. Tanzania Network of Women Living with HIV (TNW+)
  12. Stop TB Partnership Kenya
  13. ZOOLOOh International
  14. We Rise and Prosper
CategoriesGFAN Africa

Sustaining Ghana’s Health Gains In The Face Of COVID-19: HFFG Calls For Increased Funds For Health Sector

Hope for Future Generations (HFFG Ghana) welcomes the Inaugural African Union (AU) Biennial Joint Meeting of Ministers of Health and Finance for Eastern and Southern Africa Regions which took place on 8 – 9 October 2020.

We applaud the African Union for the leadership on the Africa Leaders Meeting framework and commitments, which has laid a foundation for the Health Financing agenda in Africa. This framework recognises that external partners cannot solely support Africa’s human capital development. It also demonstrates Africa’s leadership towards increased and efficient investments in health.

In Ghana, COVID-19, has led to economic contraction. Given significant revenue shortfalls, most countries, including Ghana are responding to the crisis by increasing spending mostly financed by increasing debt. Ghana has also introduced tax policy measures (including tax cuts and deferrals) to counter the economic effects of Covid-19.

We welcome the temporary debt relief by lending partners through a reduction in debt financing obligations in 2020. The suspension of debt service payments from official bilateral creditors through the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) between May and December 2020 will allow for the reallocation of spending to health and other Covid-19-related areas.

We are concerned that prior to the pandemic, Ghana had not met the recommended health investments threshold of 5% of DGP; 15% of total Government Total Expenditure; $86 per capita.

Our concern is not only on health spending in 2020 but also on what may occur in 2021 and in the years to come as government spending falls and normal debt servicing resumes. We therefore submit the following perspectives:

  1. The Government of Ghana will need to raise additional revenues. This will require building more effective tax systems. Those with the broadest shoulders will need to bear more of the burden, whether through administrative reforms to improve collection, or through changes in tax policy. The efficiency of the tax system can also be improved through the expansion of environmental taxation and cutting wasteful subsidies and tax expenditures (Granger, et al., 2020).

 

  • The Ministry of Finance will need to take measures to reallocate increased funds towards the health sector. Whilst all sectors tend to consider themselves under-funded, Hon Kwaku Agyeman Manu will have to assess the needs of the health sector, in comparison to other sectors and fund health adequately.
  • The Minister for Health will need to better allocate and make better use of funding within the health sector. Better priority setting can help focus spending on the most efficient and effective programmes (Glassman et al., 2017). Reforms to expenditure management can ensure that frontline service providers have sufficient flexibility to respond to the new conditions and improve performance (Barroy et al., 2019).
  • The Government of Ghana will need to address social barriers to equitable access to health services. With COVID-19 pushing Ghana into extreme poverty, the economic shocks – and disruption to health, nutrition, and education – have multiplied the devastation of the pandemic well beyond the direct impact of illness from the virus. There is a need for a powerful, equitable response to the pandemic that protects the poorest and most marginalized communities. This includes ensuring that gender and human rights barriers to equitable access to services are addressed.

 

Ensure that savings from the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) are reallocated to health and other Covid-19-related expenses and that spending goes where it’s needed the most to ensure investment in basic needs for the most vulnerable.

Once the urgency of addressing the health crisis subsides, the Government should focus interventions on mitigating the lasting economic damages caused by Covid-19. To preserve labour productivity, there is a need to continue to progressively build human capital for health, nutrition and education.

 

  • The Government should invest more in health research & development. The impact of the COVID-19 crisis is a powerful reminder of the need for greater investments in health research and development in Ghana.

 

As communities and civil society, we are committed to our role on accountability in ensuring that Ghana builds back better.

CategoriesGFAN Africa

To Defeat COVID-19 and Save Lives, We Must Invest Additional Resources for Health

2020 has taken each one of us aback. COVID-19 struck and disrupted health, school, businesses, travel, play, prayer, and livelihoods. We have had to make decisions that affect our health in a way only seen and done in health facilities. While going out to the shop, we have to wear a mask and sanitize and the body temperature had better be right. COVID-19 has reminded us basic facts – that we must first secure our health and then we can deal with other facets of our lives. Public health is a pre-requisite to social, economic and political stability.

Gradually, and gladly so, the lockdown measures are easing. One major move to ease the lockdown is the announcement by the Cabinet Secretary of Education Prof. George Magoha on the re-opening of schools. Great news indeed. There are health risks related to schools being closed. For some children, schools are nutrition centers that also offer psychosocial support. For some girls, being out of school can mean greater risk of sexual exploitation, early pregnancy, forced marriage and HIV infection. The longer a girl is out of school, the less likely that she will return. Education, like health, narrows inequalities, is a driver for sustainable development, breaks down cycles of poverty and opens up a world of possibilities.

As COVID-19 fades away, the aftermath will remain with us for years to come as intensive efforts to find therapeutics, treatment and a vaccine continue. When Kenya was put in lock down, access to healthcare services dwindled. People were afraid of going to health facilities when they fell ill for fear of having COVID-19 and for fear of related stigma. This has resulted in the possibility of increased incidence of other killer diseases such as HIV, TB and malaria presenting fresh and unprecedented health challenges.

A modelling report by the Stop TB Partnership indicates that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, global TB incidence and deaths in 2021 would increase to levels last seen in between 2013 and 2016 respectively – implying a setback of at least 5 to 8 years in the fight against TB.

We must see the fight against COVID-19 and other diseases such as HIV, TB and malaria as one fight. Measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on HIV, TB and malaria should involve a combination of intensive community engagement and maintaining awareness of the importance of services to defeat the three diseases while emerging from the COVID-19 response. Programs must identify and address gender inequalities in their design and response. One approach is to meaningfully engage women, supporting primary healthcare services needed to reduce child and maternal mortality; and supporting caregivers, who are mostly women, caring for those who fall ill from COVID-19 or other causes. Gender barriers to health must be removed.

Further, as we tackle COVID-19, health advocates, partners and our Government must ensure that the response to COVID-19 includes lessons learned from the fight against HIV, TB and malaria. Human rights be protected; stigma and discrimination must be addressed. The available COVID-19 resources be shared equitably. When treatment and a vaccine is found, it should be available to everyone, one everywhere for free. So that no one is left behind.

Lastly, COVID-19 will not be the last pandemic. The next pandemic must find Kenya better prepared, ready with strong and resilient health systems with a strong focus on primary healthcare founded on strong community health systems. A rights-based, equitable, people-centered system that is conscious of other factors that affect health and wellbeing such as climate change, food and housing.

To achieve these successes, I urge the Government to invest additional domestic resources for health to build back better for a healthier future for all Kenyans. That health is one of the pillars of the Big 4 agenda is a sign of President Kenyatta’s commitment to health. Health is an investment in human capital and a key factor to the development of our country.

I urge for efficient, effective and affordable healthcare for every Kenyan, wherever they are.

 

Maurine Murenga is the Executive Director of Lean On Me Foundation

CategoriesGFAN Africa Run4TB

Cecilia Senoo: To defeat Covid-19, protect progress against HIV, TB and Malaria and save lives, we must unite to fight

Covid-19 struck and disrupted health, school, businesses, travel, play, prayer, and livelihoods. We have had to make decisions that affect our health in a way only seen and done in health facilities. While going out to the shop, we have to wear a mask and sanitize and the body temperature had better be right.

Covid-19 has reminded us of basic facts – that we must first secure our health to be able to deal with other facets of our lives. Public health is a pre-requisite to social, economic and political stability. That leads me to emphasize that investing in population-based services for preventing, detecting and responding to disease is needed for development.

Government must increase investments in health

When countries including Ghana were put in lockdown, access to healthcare services dwindled. People were afraid of going to health facilities when they fell ill for fear of having Covid-19 Stigma.

There was fear of catching Covid-19 at the health facility. This has resulted in the possibility of increased incidence of other diseases such as HIV, TB and malaria presenting fresh and unprecedented health challenges.

HIV, TB and malaria services were largely disrupted during the lockdown. A modelling report by the Stop TB Partnership indicates that as a result, global TB incidence and deaths in 2021 would increase to levels last seen in between 2013 and 2016 respectively – implying a setback of at least 5 to 8 years in the fight against TB, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A report by UNAIDS posits that the HIV response could be set back further, by 10 years or more, where Covid-19 has caused severe disruptions. Malaria prevention programmes were interrupted such as in the delayed distribution of mosquito nets.

Schools have been closed for months and gladly, they are gradually re-opening. For out-of-school girls, this can mean a greater risk of sexual exploitation, early pregnancy, forced marriage and HIV infection. The longer a girl is out of school, the less likely that she will return. The level of risk is enormous.

Countries must then focus on how best to accelerate the restoration of services, to bring the disease burden under control.

Measures to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on HIV, TB and malaria should involve a combination of intensive community engagement and maintaining awareness of the importance of services to defeat the three diseases while emerging from the Covid-19 response. Programs must identify and address gender inequalities in their design and response.

One approach is to meaningfully engage women, supporting primary healthcare services needed to reduce child and maternal mortality; and supporting caregivers, who are mostly women, caring for those who fall ill from Covid-19 or other causes. Gender barriers to health must be removed.

Further, as we tackle Covid-19, health advocates, partners and governments must ensure that the response to Covid-19 includes strategies and lessons learned from the fight against HIV, TB and malaria and resources are allocated towards this.

Human rights must be protected; stigma and discrimination must be addressed. The available Covid-19 resources must ensure equitable access to screening, testing and treatment. When treatment and a vaccine is found, it should be available to everyone, one everywhere for free. So that no one is left behind.

This calls for a solid global collaboration to acceleratethe development, production and equitable access to new Covid-19 technologies.

Lastly, Covid-19 will not be the last pandemic. The next pandemic must find us better prepared, ready with strong and resilient health systems with a strong focus on primary healthcare founded on strong community health systems. A rights-based, equitable, people-centred system that is conscious of other factors that affect health and wellbeing such as climate change, food and housing.

To achieve these successes, the government of Ghana must invest additional domestic resources for health to build back better for a healthier and safer future. The government must consider health as an investment in human capital in the realization that health is a key factor in the development of our country.

We unite to fight and the beat continues for efficient, effective and affordable healthcare for everyone, everywhere.

Source: https://www.myjoyonline.com/opinion/cecilia-senoo-to-defeat-covid-19-protect-progress-against-hiv-tb-and-malaria-and-save-lives-we-must-unite-to-fight/

Cecilia Senoo is the Executive Director, Hope for Future Generations
and Focal Person-GFAN-Africa

CategoriesBlog WACI Health News

Breastfeeding pegged on reduced maternal mortality

The World Breastfeeding Week, which runs from August 1 to 7, annually aims at focusing attention on the need to mothers to breastfeed their infants exclusively for the first six months of life.

This year’s theme was’ Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet’.

Unfortunately, unacceptably high number of women do not enjoy this privilege of breastfeeding their children because they never make it out of the delivery room alive.

breastfeeding pic

Excessive bleeding or post-partum haemorrhage during or after child birth is the single highest killer of mothers in Africa.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) at least 295,000 women died during birth in 2017.

MATERNAL DEATHS

Sub-Saharan Africa alone accounts for roughly two-third (196,000) of these global maternal deaths.  This in itself is unacceptably high.

Mothers need to stay alive to provide their children with the best possible start in life – breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding delivers health, nutritional and emotional benefits for children and it forms part of a sustainable food system. Unfortunately, this is not a possibility for mothers who lose their lives while delivering their babies.

WHO, based on extensive new evidence, issued two recommendations for prevention and treatment of bleeding in women and included two new medicines in the WHO model list of essential medicines in 2019.

If these recommendations are implemented, they will contribute to the reduction in maternal mortality especially in low and middle income countries.

BLOOD LOSS

Administration of an effective uterotonic (these are drugs that help the uterus to contract and helps reduce blood loss during child birth) immediately after the birth of the baby has been shown to prevent PPH caused by the uterus failing to contract and is recommended by the WHO for all births.

Currently, most low and middle-income countries use oxytocin injection as the first line medicine for the prevention and treatment of PPH.

Oxytocin is a heat sensitive product that degrades when it is not kept refrigerated with temperatures of 2-8 °C (35-46 °F) throughout the supply chain, which can result in reduced effectiveness at the time of use, particularly in countries where reliable electricity and cold-chain may not be available.

Most countries in Africa use Oxytocin, a drug to stop bleeding during or after pregnancy, which requires cold chain. Many hospitals lack refrigeration facilities and also experience erratic power supply hence the efficacy of the drug becomes compromised. There are also many fake products in circulation.

COVID-19

Covid-19 has shown us that most of our health-care facilities are compromised in dealing with the pandemic be it human resource or equipment.

While most African countries  have stepped up and working on strengthening their healthcare systems, we should not forget the fact that maternal mortality still remains high in this region and that there is a cost effective solution available especially in our resource stretched economies.

The 2018 recommendations issued by WHO for drugs that support the uterus to go back to ‘its setting” after delivery now includes heat stable carbetocin as an option for prevention of bleeding for all births by a skilled birth attendant.

This particular drug is heat stable and a new formulation which retains its effectiveness for at least 36 months when stored at temperatures up to 30 degrees Celsius.

TRAUMA PATIENTS

Another drug that has been in use for years in reducing blood loss during surgery for trauma patients – Tranexamic Acid – is also part of the recommendation. While it had previously not been a go-to drug for reducing bleeding during birth, WHO has now included in the 2019 list of essential medicines with an obstetric indication- treatment of Post-Partum Haemorrhage (PPH).

These medicines, some new but some not so new are much needed on a continent that should not be losing mothers when there are ways to prevent it. While these medicines have been included in the essential drugs list by WHO, most African countries are yet to include them on their country’s lists.

For mothers to continue breastfeeding, they need to stay alive after delivery. To achieve this, we need to include drugs that work and that can maintain their efficacy even in resource strapped areas to save the lives of mothers and to contribute to the reduction of maternal mortality.

Joyce Ng’ang’a is the Policy Advisor at WACI Health

CategoriesGFAN Africa

The Global Fund in Ghana : Visit of the French Ambassador

On the occasion of the 6th Global Fund Replenishment Conference, held in Lyon (France) on October 10, 2019, the Ambassador of France to Ghana visited a facility that benefited from the Global Fund (Maamobi General Hospital), met with members of the Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) and beneficiaries.c128dca21ed80e4a5e3e909d125f59 4c74c

The French Ambassador, Anne Sophie AVE, went to the Maamobi General Hospital in Accra where she was welcomed by the Director, Dr. Dorcas ANFU OKINE and various care staff of the establishment as well as the CCM Chair, Ms. Cecilia SENOO. She was able to meet with the National Disease Control Programs (NACP), the National AIDS Control Program (NACP), the National Tuberculosis Program (NTP), and the National Disease Control Program (NTP). She also visited the maternity ward where she met pregnant women and young mothers receiving Global Fund-funded treatment.

She then met with members of the CCM as well as representatives of the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service to discuss the modalities for strategic management and monitoring of grants.

The end of the morning was dedicated to a meeting with direct beneficiaries of the Global Fund. H.E. the Ambassador AVE was able to speak with Mrs. Comfort ASAMOAH-ADU, Executive Director of the WAPCAS (West African Program to Combat AIDS and STIs), the main recipient of the Global Fund. This sequence was an opportunity to discuss with different beneficiaries and affected communities about their backgrounds and the challenges they face.

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The Global Fund has several objectives: maximizing the impact of actions against HIV / AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria; building resilient and sustainable health systems; promotion and protection of human rights and gender equality and the mobilization of resources.

Since 2002, when it was created, more than $ 40 billion has been allocated to 140 countries to fight these three pandemics. By 2018, programs supported by the Global Fund to Fight HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria have saved 32 million lives worldwide.
Ghana, the first recipient of a Global Fund grant, has received cumulative disbursements of US $ 817 million since 2002, including about US $ 110 million from France.

Malaria remains a leading cause of death in Ghana, but since 2006 significant progress has been made in reducing prevalence, incidence and mortality. Tuberculosis is treated successfully in 85% of cases, but screening coverage is still low, as is the case for HIV. HIV / AIDS remains a significant cause of death and prevalence is high among key populations (sex workers, men who have sex with men). New HIV infections do not decrease (19,100 cases / year in 2017), the number of people living with HIV is estimated at 320,000 in 2018.

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On October 10, 2019, France hosted the 6th Global Fund Replenishment Conference in Lyon, meeting the financial needs for the 2020-2022 periods with a financial target of $ 14 billion to help save $ 16 million lives and avoid 234 million new infections in 2030.

The States present at this Conference have met their commitments: the Fund has collected $ 14.02 billion in pledges, including $ 1.4 billion from France, which remains the second largest contributor to the Global Fund since its creation in 2002, after the United States.

Global Fund resources alone will not be sufficient and the Government of Ghana will undoubtedly need strengthen its efforts through increased health budgets to eradicate the 3 pandemics.

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