WEST AFRICA HEALTH SYSTEM ILL PREPARED FOR AN EPIDEMIC – WEST AFRICA PHYSICIANS

The West African College of Physicians has raised the alarm that the current health systems in the sub-region are too weak and ill-prepared for emerging infectious disease epidemics.
 
The college expressed this concern in a communique issued at the end of its 38/39th annual general and scientific meeting held on Thursday in Abuja.
 
The theme of the meeting was “Physicians, Politics and Policies of Healthcare in the West African Sub-region: The Inextricable Web”.
 
It was attended by over 950 delegates and guests from 12 countries including Nigeria, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Benin, Cote D’Ivoire, Senegal, Togo, Sierra Leone, South Africa, the USA and the UK.
 
The vice president of the college, Professor Ayodele Omotosho, who read the communique, said laboratory practice and healthcare delivery in the sub-region were negatively affected by poor funding, conflicting legislations and policies which; according to him, are resulting in inter-professional disputes.

He said the college also observed that the political will to fight tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity was equally too weak in the sub-region.
 
According to Omotosho, allocation of resources to mental health services is inadequate to meet the mental health needs of the people of the sub-region.
 
He said the college recommended that West African governments strengthen health systems and increase political will in reducing the burden of non-communicable diseases by implementing multi-disciplinary strategies for prevention, treatment and control through appropriate legislation and health education.
 
He said governments should also channel more resources into improving adult and child mental health and promulgate policies and legislation for the integration of mental health facilities into primary healthcare in the sub-region.
 
According to him, nations ensure adequate surveillance and promote infection control strategies at all levels in order to prevent re-emergence of infectious disease epidemics and increase resource mobilisation efforts through multi-partner funds.
 
He said West African governments should also review existing health legislations and policies to ensure industrial harmony and efficiency among all cadres of health workers.
 
Omotosho said the college resolved to, among other things, provide expert advice to the governments of the sub-region on how to build robust, resilient and responsive health systems.
 
By: Isiaka Wakili
Daily Trust News

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