WHO Director-General leaves a message of hope

WHO Director-General leaves a message of hope "More investment in the national health system will bring more improvements in health"



Luanda, 20 February 2008 -- The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Margaret Chan, said in Luanda that the visit she paid to Angola gave her a global overview of the current situation in the country, besides the high level political commitment to strengthen the national health system as a «backbone» to delivery good health services to improve the health status of the populations.

Dr. Margaret Chan left Luanda on Wednesday to Abuja, Nigeria, very satisfied with the outcomes of her three-day visit.

«The fact that the WHO Director-General is better informed on current health challenges and needs in Angola would reinforce the collaboration between WHO and our Country», said the  Minister,  emphasizing that the visit was very positive.

Dr. Margaret Chan noted that despite the good progress made by the Government towards reconstruction after more than 30 years of war, the health challenges in Angola remain enormous.

«Angola still needs to improve the indicators in priority areas, such as maternal and child health, malaria control, Tuberculosis and environmental health», she highlighted adding that «these are also the same areas covered by the health Millennium Development Goals».

According to official data published by the Ministry of Health, the infant mortality rate in Angola is among the worst in the world, with 154/1000 live births and the maternal mortality rate is 1400/100.000 live births. Regarding malaria, in 2006, the MoH reported 2.283.097 cases in hospitals with 10.220 deaths. 38,833 new cases of TB were reported in 2006, and according to HIV/AIDS estimates there are 280,000 people living with this disease in the country. Finally, regarding environmental health indicators only 53% of the population has access to drinking water and 31%  to basic sanitation.

According to the WHO Director-General, the establishment of a good national health system is the «backbone» to delivery health services that will improve the health status of the entire population. «One of the challenges for the national health system in Angola is the lack of enough health care providers and the government is paying attention to solve this big problem», she said.

«Angola is a land of hope and unique opportunities and I am convinced that thanks to the political commitment showed by the Head of State, this country could improve the health situation, specially in those priority areas identified by the government», the Director-General commented during her discussions  with the President.

During the three days she has spent in Angola, Dr. Margaret Chan also held talks with  the Prime-Minister, H.E. Fernando da Piedade dias dos Santos, the executive board of the Ministry of Health, the head of the UN Agencies and the bilateral health partners in Angola.

Dr. Margaret Chan also visited health facilities at municipal level where she actively interacted with health care workers and people receiving preventive and curative care, such as pregnant women, people affected by malaria, malnourished children and people living with HIV/AIDS.

During these field visits she witnessed the impact of malaria as the  main public health issue in Angola (55% of morbidity), specially among pregnant women and under five year old children. In Angola, the WHO Director-General also attended a meeting on "Malaria indicators", during which she called for the strengthening of partnerships against this killer disease, as well as for the right implementation of the existing strategies to fight the Malaria burden.

In her second mission to Africa since she took office in January 2007, which includes Angola and Nigeria now, Dr. Margaret Chan is accompanied by the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Luis Gomes Sambo. She was in Brazzaville in 2007 for the last session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa.

At the airport, to see off the WHO delegation was the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Anastácio Sicato. Also present were the deputy-ministers for Public Health and for Hospitals, Dr. Jose Van-Dúnem and Dr. Evelize Openings respectively, the UN acting Resident Coordinator, Mr. Anatoli Mba, the new designated WHO Representative in Angola, Dr. Nsue Milang, and officers from MoH and the Ministry for External Relations.

Issued by WHO Office in Angola.

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