Dar es Salaam. The East African Community (EAC) has committed itself to eliminate HIV/Aids and preventable maternal and child deaths by year-2030.
To that end, the regional body – which comprises the six countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan – has urged stakeholders to work diligently in building consensus in the health sector. The objective is to build the health and wellbeing of the member countries’ peoples.
A press statement released on February 21 this year by the EAC head of corporate communications and public affairs, Mr Owora Othieno, says the ‘regional’ commitment was given by the Uganda minister of State for Health, Ms Sarah Opendi.
The minister – who doubles as the chairperson of the EAC sectoral council of ministers of health – was speaking during the official opening in Kampala of the first ‘EAC Roundtable on Investing in Health Infrastructure, Systems, Services and Research’ for the accelerated attainment of universal health coverage and sustainable development.
In the event, she underscored the importance of investing in health, “which is the most direct route of creating wealthy nations.
“Poor health hinders our ability to realize the national and global socio-economic aspirations set out in national development plans, the ‘Common Market Protocol, the ‘EAC Vision-2050’ and the (UN-backed) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” she said.
Noting that the Kampala roundtable comes at a time when the east African region was still facing major challenges of emerging and re-emerging diseases, Ms Opendi said this calls for increased investment in human, financial and technological resources by various stakeholders.
“It is my sincere hope that this roundtable dialogue shall come up with concrete proposals, and build a consensus on priority health infrastructure systems, services and research investments with the highest potential to accelerate progress towards ‘Universal Health Coverage’ and the health-related ‘Sustainable Development Goals,” she said.
Disclosing that “the EAC partner states were currently expanding the regions’ capacity to deliver high-quality specialized health services through EAC regional centre of excellence for higher medical education and research,” the minister explained that all this is being done “with support from the African Development Bank (AfDB).”