The President of Uganda, His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has highlighted the critical role communities play in managing and responding to disease outbreaks in Africa especially in resource-constrained settings. “Train communities to look out for these outbreaks because community participation is very important,” he said at the opening of the 4th High-level Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) meeting that was held in Kampala last week
President Museveni told participants that today’s interconnected and interdependent world is prone to easy and faster spread of diseases. He thus highlighted the need for increased vigilance in detecting and controlling disease outbreaks, saying, “Africa has insufficient public health services which need to be improved.”
At the meeting, ministers from 50 countries and health experts from The Center for Disease Control, the Food and Agricultural Organization, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other organizations meeting under the theme- “Health Security for All: Engaging Communities, Non-Governmental Organizations and the Private Sector” passed the Kampala Declaration that commits countries to prioritize health security.
Participants agreed to ensure a world, safe and secure from the global health threats posed by infectious diseases. They also agreed to prioritize outbreak prevention and control, sustain economic gains and stability as well as highlight the role of GHSA to nurture and sustain good health for all. They also appreciated the role of WHO’s leadership in supporting countries to build health security capacity and recognized the GHSA’s role in monitoring and evaluation of International Health Regulations.
Speaking at the closure of the meeting, the Prime Minister of Uganda, Right Honorable Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, pointed out that the GHSA meeting took place at a time when the WHO African Region is faced with many emergencies which require nations to prioritize and design mechanisms to deal with them.
The Director of Program Management at the WHO Regional Office for Africa, Dr Joseph Kabore concurred with Dr Rugunda and emphasized the importance and urgency to tackle emergencies on the continent. He referred to the previous Ebola outbreak that claimed many lives in West Africa with adverse economic impact, where over $6 billion dollars was spent to control and stop the outbreak.
Dr Kabore applauded the commitment of the GHSA member countries to work together to ensure health security for all. He particularly pointed out the importance of preparation as critical to the control of disease outbreaks in order to prevent loss of lives and also mitigate against other negative consequences.
The GHSA acknowledges the essential need for a multilateral and multi-sectoral approach to strengthening both the global capacity and nations' capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats, whether naturally occurring, deliberate, or accidental. This capacity once established would mitigate the devastating effects of Ebola, MERS, other highly pathogenic infectious diseases, and bioterrorism events.
Through a partnership of nearly 50 nations, international organizations, and non-governmental stakeholders, GHSA is facilitating capacity-building to achieve specific and measurable targets around biological threats. GHSA also endeavours to accelerate achievement of the core capacities required by the WHO's International Health Regulations (IHR), the World Organization of Animal Health's (OIE) Performance of Veterinary Services Pathway, and other relevant global health security frameworks.
This partnership is led and supported by a GHSA Steering Group composed of 10 member nations. In addition to individual countries, advisory partners of GHSA include the WHO, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the OIE, Interpol, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), and the European Union. The 4th GHSA meeting was organized by Uganda’s Ministry of Health and WHO while the 5th will be held in Indonesia in October 2018.