Poor evidence generation affecting policy decision making in Africa, says WHO

Africa is poor at generating evidence for policy and decision making, Dr Luis Sambo, the World Health Organisation regional director for Africa has said.

Africa is poor at generating evidence for policy and decision making, Dr Luis Sambo, the World Health Organisation (WHO) regional director for Africa has said.

Reporting to the WHO 62nd session of the regional committee for Africa, currently taking place in Luanda in Angola, Dr Sambo highlighted the challenges faced by Africa in strengthening national health information systems.

He proposed a set of actions, which draw upon resources from the large number of  global health initiatives operating in the region, which the continent should prioritise in order to strengthen national health systems.

“In the World Health Organisation African region national health information systems have limited capacity to produce good quality and timely information. Other challenges include poor generation of evidence for policy and decision-making as well as lack of collaboration among stakeholders to effectively analyse and share available data and evidence,” Dr Sambo said.

He recommended each country establish a National Health Observatory, an online repository for quality information on health to met this challenge.

On global health initiatives, Dr Sambo urged Africa to pool revenues collected from different sources into one financing mechanism. He said this would reinforce country efforts to move towards universal health coverage (when the entire population has access to good quality integrated health services).

The WHO chief further recommended countries maximise the use of existing health system funding opportunities by ensuring achievement of results in a timely, accountable and transparent manner. He highlighted how only 43 out of the 46 member states of the WHO African region have conducted core capacity assessments in line with international health regulation (IHR) requirements and that none have fully implemented national IHR plans.

“In order to fully comply with the IHR, countries need adequate human and financial resources, predictable funding for IHR national plans and measures to retain highly-trained and skilled health personnel including members of the national IHR focal points,” Dr Sambo said.

He further noted a trend in many African nations of weak collaboration between the health sector and the government departments responsible for locations where infectious diseases may enter a country.

 

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