On the Scene: Blogging from the Ministers of Health Conference in Zimbabwe

On the Scene: Blogging from the Ministers of Health Conference in Zimbabwe

The Health Minister’s Conference for member countries of The East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA HC) was opened by the Minister of Health, Zimbabwe in Harare on October 25. The theme, "Moving from Knowledge to Action: Harnessing Evidence to Transform Healthcare" is very relevant to the mission of Management Sciences for Health (MSH).

I’ll highlight two sessions from the first day that support the evolving global health field and the work of MSH.

  1. Moving toward Universal Health Coverage:  This is the first principle supporting the MSH evolving approach to Health Systems Strengthening.  Professor Francis Omaswa, of the African Center for Health and Social Transformation, made the case for African countries to advocate for universal healthcare coverage and he described the two key ingredients:  equity of access and financial risk reduction.  He said, “Universal health coverage will be the main topic of the World Health Organization World Health Report due in May 2011, and will likely be the theme of the World Health Assembly in Geneva, May 2011.”
  2. Prioritizing Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs):  This is timely as several speakers presented data on the growing burden from NCDs in Africa noting that 4 of 5 deaths in mid and low income countries are already related to NCDs, yet communicable diseases get all the press.  The presenters said that addressing diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and issues related to stunting, tobacco, and nutrition must become a higher priority for funding and global health interventions.

Maternal and child health as well as meeting the unmet need for family planning in Africa will be key topics for Day 2 at the conference.  Resolutions and recommendations on priority topics will be presented to the Health Minister’s on Thursday and Friday for discussion and ratification. The recommendations that are ratified will go out to member states for implementation.  More to come as the week goes on.

Joseph Dwyer is the project director of the Leadership, Management and Sustainability Program at MSH.

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