The 72nd session of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Committee for Africa will conclude today.
The Regional Committee is the WHO’s decision-making body on health in Africa. In the first in-person meeting since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the committee addressed increasing access to medicines and vaccines and endorsing strategies in fighting non-communicable diseases. This year, WHO has prioritized restructuring healthcare systems to ensure equitable distribution of healthcare.
Severe non-communicable diseases such as sickle cell disease, diabetes and others create a burden on African health systems and on African people, particularly outside of large cities. Most countries in Africa lack the necessary medicines and resources in hospitals for handling noncommunicable diseases. The majority of hospitals with resources are located within wealthy urban areas, worsening health inequalities as rural and lower-income populations are unable to access adequate treatment.
During the meetings, African health ministers initiated a campaign to raise awareness and resources for addressing sickle cell disease, one of the most prevalent non-communicable diseases in the region. With increased access to health facilities, the new strategy will likely reduce transportation and lodging costs, and African people in rural areas are likely to spend less time traveling to hospitals.
Andrew Nicholas Prado-Alipui is a graduate of Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations. He has contributed to the Daily Brief as an Analyst focusing on developments in Sub-Saharan Africa He will be pursuing a Master's degree at the University of South Carolina beginning in Fall 2022. Andrew is also a publisher of the Daily Brief.