AN AFRICAN HEADING THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: WHAT IT MEANS FOR THE AFRICAN CHILD
By Liz Busisa
Africa has, once again, one of its very own heading one of the largest organizations in the world on matters health. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, an Ethiopian, is the new head of the World Health Organization (WHO). This is historical as Tedros is the first African to lead this United Nations health agency. Question is, what does his leadership mean for Africa?
Africa has long been regarded as having majority of its countries in the Third World in terms of development. The health sector has been one of the worst developed sectors in Africa, with many of its countries still struggling with combating disease outbreaks. This has had an impact in provision and access of quality health for children. This is a result of poor health human resources, poor equipment and infrastructure and distance to a health facility.
Having an African leading the WHO could mean that all this will change. This is because Dr.Ghebreyesus, has experience the poor health care in Africa and able to relate. Hence it is hoped that there shall be more funding being disbursed into the continent to help improve health sectors in different countries; priority shall be given to the worst struck countries with disease outbreaks and epidemics, among others.
However, the issue on corruption will eventually come up whenever finances are on the table. The election of Tedros was not as smooth as most people may assume. There were critiques concerning his election to the seat. His country, Ethiopia, had a cholera outbreak during the time that he was Minister for Health and it was alleged that he overlooked the predicament. There were also allegations that his Ministry used a donor-funded health extension programme as an avenue for coercive political recruitment to rule a political front. Further, the allegations show that people were denied access to even the measly services provided unless they joined the front.
Such allegations, together with others from other countries such as Kenya, may not auger well in the international arena for special benefits to be prioritized to the African people. There should be strict measures put in place by international stakeholders for African countries to adhere to if they would wish to enjoy proper benefits from the WHO in their health sectors.
We hope Dr.Ghebreyesus will work with Africa governments to come with home grown solutions to tackle corruption in health sector which will improve the health of the African child
Liz is a lawyer and legal and policy writer for Mtoto News
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