Photograph — Wikimedia Commons

For the first time ever, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Office for Africa (AFRO) will on 27 and 28 June 2017 convene a meeting of global leaders and thinkers in Kigali Rwanda. They will be exploring Africa’s healthcare priorities and challenges, finding new ways to achieve better health for all.

“Health is at the heart of the SDGs and it is critical for better quality of life. WHO AFRO is committed to working with countries and partners to attain the highest possible level of health for Africa’s people, said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

The event themed “Putting People First: The Road to Universal Health Coverage in Africa”, will provide a platform to forge new partnerships for delivering Universal Health Coverage (UHC). This is a mechanism for improving access to quality, affordable healthcare for all and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“This forum will help pave the way to attain UHC across the continent. We are convinced that together, we can do more to save lives and achieve a prosperous and sustainable future for all,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti added.

Experts from different fields including academics, government representatives, the private sector and youth organisations will speak at the WHO Africa Health Forum. The following themes will be covered at the two-day event:

  • Health financing;
  • Health security;
  • Health research, innovation and data;
  • UHC and the private sector in Africa;
  • Old enemies such as HIV and the rise of new threats such as non-communicable diseases.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            There will also be special sessions on e-health in Africa and the health of young people in the healthcare debate.

Why Rwanda was selected to host the event

Rwanda was selected to host this Forum following many successes recorded in terms of improving its health system. Rwanda is a good example for other African countries such as Nigeria and Ghana to follow. The country has been able to overcome several challenges and obstacles by making use of homegrown solutions to improve the socio-economic well-being of it’s citizens.

Rwanda, which had no reliable healthcare system after the genocidal attacks in 1994, can now boast of a decent health care system for its people. As of today, the country has 406 health posts, 499 health centres, 36 district hospitals, and seven referral hospitals. One of the groundbreaking revolutions that happened in Rwanda’s health sector was the delivery of blood using drones.

According to World Bank reports, in the last two and a half decades, Rwandans’ life expectancy has tripled from 28 in 1994, to 46 in 2000, and 66 by the end 2015. In fact, according to Rwanda Eye, no baby dies during birth in Rwanda.

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