Lessons from the 2022 World Health Summit

General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director, World Health Organization by Adetayo Adetokun We attended the World Health Summit from October 16 – 18, 2022, and had insightful takeaways, especially from the sessions curated for African healthcare and food systems. The World Health Summit (WHS) 2022, organized jointly with the World Health Organization (WHO) for the first time, is considered the world’s leading meeting on global health. Held under the patronage of German Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, Senegal’s President Macky Sall, and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHS 2022 aimed to stimulate innovative solutions to health challenges, foster global health as a critical political issue and promote a global health conversation in the spirit of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The health systems in many communities in Africa are vastly inadequate today. Since the pandemic began, it has become increasingly obvious that our health systems have further disintegrated, with barely any systems in place to check this rot. The COVID-19 pandemic, which claimed the lives of nearly 80 million people worldwide, further showed how vulnerable our healthcare systems are. Our governments have yet to make the investments in our healthcare systems that would provide the requisite knowledge to improve or even manage the sector. As a result, millions of people who got the COVID-19 virus could not be saved, worsening the social contract between governments and their citizens. Almost all funds we received – whether for research, vaccination, or other health service delivery components – came from nations and organizations who have made these investments in their health systems and could afford to share their excess.   We believe every neighbourhood, state, and nation across Africa should have effective and efficient healthcare systems. As more advocates begin to hold the government accountable, we are starting to witness a gradual transformation of the healthcare systems in Africa.  At the summit, we attended two main sessions organized for Africa: The Road to 2023: Are we Achieving Universal Health Coverage? Transforming Food Systems for Healthy and Sustainable Diets  Here are some of the excellent lessons we learned from these sessions. First Panel Session: The Road to 2023: Are we Achieving Universal Health Coverage? The speakers in this session included: Sandrine Bouttier-Stref, Global Head of Corporate Social Responsibility Sanoli; Alison Cox, Policy and Advocacy Director, Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance; Gabriela Cuevas Barrón, Universal Healthcare Coverage 2030, Co-Chair of the Steering Committee; Loyce Pace, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Assistant Secretary for Global Public Affairs; Dr. Luis Pizarro, Executive Director at Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi); and Dr. Peter Kwame Yeboah, Executive Director, Christian Health Association of Ghana.  In this session, we learned that global health, numerous collaborations between product development partnerships and the pharmaceutical industry multilateral partnerships have already demonstrated the important role in driving access to healthcare in multiple low- to middle-income countries and across the most affected vulnerable populations. While it is clear that partnerships can result in significant benefits, challenging questions remain open. It showed us a clear road map to foster robust and sustainable collaborations that must be urgently developed to close the access gap and put us on the path to a world where equal access to quality health care is ensured for everybody. According to Gabriella Cuevas Barron, it took a pandemic that claimed the lives of more than six million people to realize how shaky the global healthcare system was. Although it may seem challenging, achieving universal healthcare coverage would be much simpler if monies were properly financed and monitored as they were used to develop the healthcare system. To ensure that nobody is left behind, we must include women and girls in these decisions. Peter Kwame Yeboah discussed the situation in Ghana and how they dealt with the recent healthcare crisis. In the last few years, religious and humanitarian organizations have assumed control of healthcare to improve coverage. In contrast to government-owned hospitals, they are nonetheless marginalized and subjected to extremely high standards, making them unable to perform as they should. To stop this, they must make sure that these partnerships are restructured. These selective regulations have made it difficult for these hospitals to operate. According to Luis Pizarro, it is crucial for every nation to be aware of the number of neglected diseases it has, particularly those in Africa. It is clear that several diseases impact millions of individuals, but because they reside in underprivileged areas, little attention is paid to them, and no solutions are explored. Ideas are excellent, but they need great finance to take flight. Thus nations seeking to attain universal healthcare coverage by 2030 must start providing funds for outstanding ideas. In her address, Alison Cox stated that 80% of current fatalities are brought on by Non-Communicable diseases (NCDs) and that this number might increase to 52 million in the upcoming year. Only 1% of individuals with NCDs have access to effective therapies. Since millions of people worldwide suffer from numerous chronic and lifelong diseases, most of which are chronic and lifelong, partnerships are crucial to addressing the NCD problem. We require funding from a variety of sources, including private organizations and individual donors to NCD funds. Regarding equity, she emphasized its significance. To eradicate NCDs, we must begin with the most disadvantaged populations. The significance of the pharmaceutical industry in assisting with the attainment of universal healthcare coverage was discussed by Sandrine Boutlier-Stref. The importance of understanding how these sectors contribute to making pharmaceuticals more accessible to people all around the world cannot be overstated. To reach a compromise where innovations are produced to address urgent problems, the government and the business sector must cooperate.  Loyce Pace spoke on empowering healthcare professionals. Everyone who works in the healthcare industry needs to be given a chance to express themselves and complete their tasks in a calm setting that supports them. When we accomplish this, we’ll be able to gauge our readiness to meet the 2030 goal of universal healthcare coverage. Second Panel Session: Transforming Food Systems

Buhari, Now That You Have Finally Settled Into Aso Rock II

(To get acquainted with the first part of this piece, click here) President Muhammadu Buhari in his office. Dear Mr. President, the first part of my advice may have packed quite a punch but I hope you can look beyond that and see the issues raised within. I am calling this part of the advice the second phase. This requires that you meet with technocrats and stellar business minds to see what can be done to make this a reality. They are not less important than the first phase. If anything, they are equally important. 3.       Make Proper Education a Priority You cannot overhaul the economy without proper formal education…and yes, I said formal education. In this sense, education is allowing the mind to be free and open to think up innovative ideas and not filling it with supposed outdated knowledge. I got this definition from Innocent Usar of Innocent Minds. You should consider working with him. We need a school system that encourages innovation rather than one which celebrates certificates. Certificates should only be as good as they can be translated to solving everyday societal issues. With proper education, a door to infinity will be opened in the minds of the recipients. Let me tell you a story. My younger sister who is a mechanical engineer passed by a mango tree. She stopped abruptly and turned back. She stared at that tree for a bit and came back home. When I asked why she acted that way, she in turn asked what I noticed about the tree. I told her I noticed it was a mango tree with lots of rotten fruit beneath. Then she asked me if I have ever had vodka. I was surprised because she knows that I am a teetotaler. She laughed and said abstinence was no reason to pass up a chance to make money. Yes…like you, I had a stupid look on my face. She smiled and asked me which country drank vodka more. I said Russia or Germany…wasn’t too sure. Then she said, ‘Do you know vodka can be processed from rotten fruit?’ Then it hit me! My Biochemistry came back to me in that instance. She said we can export rotten fruit to Russia for their vodka and make some money out it. Talk about waste-to-wealth! Only the illumination that comes from proper formal education would have made her open her mind to the possibilities that was beyond what she saw. If schools are properly furnished and equipped, have teachers who know their onion and are willing to not just teach but learn and students are made to understand how important their collective visions are to the country, then research and development will shoot at tangential velocity until as a nation, we become a force to be reckoned with. 4.  Revamp the Military As a former military general, it shouldn’t be hard to realize that our military needs a touch-up. Get the military to look inward. Let them design weapons, machinery, and strategies that prepare them for unplanned circumstances. I’m talking tactical knowledge that can rival Jack Bauer in 24, or Sherlock Holmes in the BBC series, Sherlock. The military should be so elite that physical strength is not the only criteria to get in. I want to see a military that can hold its own without having to beg other nations for help. New and innovative maneuvers and tactics should be common place. You need to bring the glory and pride back to the Nigerian military. You can do this by flushing out redundant military top brass and propagating fairness in recruiting and admitting military personnel. As you prepare towards that, buy advanced arsenal and train and retrain our military personnel for the uphill task they have ahead, a task that will ensure that Nigeria is as safe from foreign invasions and attacks as is humanly possible. 5.  Make Security a Prerogative Security was not my first point because I know that when the things I have mentioned above are in place, especially regarding our military, security will naturally fall into place. But, you can still go further on the issue of security. You have to make do on your promise to end the insurgency that brought this nation to her knees. While doing so, you also have to make sure the military, police and other paramilitary agencies are prepared for another form of terrorism that may or may not spring up from the South-South region of the country, or anywhere else for that matter. Security agencies, especially the police and paramilitary outfits, need to be trained on intelligence gathering, quick response and the ability to nip crime in the bud because in truth, many of these personnel are not proactive in carrying out their jobs. Get security personnel to curb armed robbery and kidnappings so that foreign investors and citizens can go about their duties without fear for their lives. Urge the police to respect the basic human rights of anyone they address and/or arrest.  Nigerians need to trust the police and other security agencies to be able to effectively carry out their jobs. 6.   Ensure that there is Proper Healthcare This especially has to start from you. You need to use your veto power to prevent ALL public office holders from going abroad for treatment, even if abroad is our neighbor Ghana. This will mean that our lawmakers will ensure proper legislation for the health care sector. This is how you can do this.         ·         Ensure that all Federal hospitals are well equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and well trained and empathetic personnel. Many people do not go to Federal hospitals because, even though it is cheaper than most private hospitals, the staff can be completely apathetic to the plights of patients. I have two examples. My mum had a car accident sometime in 2012 and was taken to National Hospital, Abuja. After stitching her up, they discharged her that same day. I was shocked because she had head wounds. In my view of what standard procedure

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