The West African Health Organization (WAHO) has officially begun its activities for the (2013) with a ceremony held on Wednesday, January 16, a dispatch from Kayode EGBELEYE,
WAHO’s Advocacy & Communications Officer at the organization’s headquarters in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, the ceremony was attended by the Governor of the Upper Basin Region of Burkina Faso, Nebilma Joseph Bakouan, WAHO’s Director General, Dr. Placido Cardoso, the Deputy Director General, Dr. Jeannetta Johnson, Directors of Departments, the various professional officers and other allied staff of the institution.
In his welcome address, WAHO’s Director General, Dr. Placido Cardoso, observed that despite all the efforts made to prevent and contain the outbreak of epidemics including HIV/AIDS in the ECOWAS region, the health situation of the population remained weakened in 2012.
He deplored the absence of common health policies and norms including armed conflicts which have negatively impacted the quality of healthcare to communities and especially people affected by HIV. He said “Even when we are yet to find lasting solutions to these, we still need to develop initiatives to promote harmonized health policies and explore innovative options that will enable the region to achieve better health for all and guarantee sustainable human development.”
Dr. Cardoso reiterated the institution’s commitment to play a key role in the pursuit of the highest possible level of health for the people of West Africa. “The achievement of this ideal will depend on strengthening the joint efforts of Member States, the ECOWAS Commission as well as Technical and Financial Partners,” he concluded.
The ceremony was relayed via Visio Conference to enable other actors from Ghana, Senegal and Cape Verde to participate. Among those who intervened from far during the ceremony are Dr. Yaw Adu Gyamfi, the Executive Director of DANADAMS Pharmaceutical Company, Accra, Ghana, Mr. Mamadou Diallo, the Regional Director of UNAIDS, Dakar, Senegal, the representative of the Ghanaian Minister of Health and Sra Dra Maria Cristina Fontes and the Minister of Health of Cape Verde.
In his presentation, the Professional Officer in charge of HIV/AIDS and Disease and Epidemics Control, Dr. Carlos Brito gave an overview of the epidemiological situation of HIV/AIDS in the ECOWAS region where seroprevalence rates in 2011 fluctuates between 0.7 % and 3.9 % with Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Ghana being the most affected.
Dr. Brito said that as at 2011, more than 2,000,000 people in the ECOWAS region were in need of Anti retroviral therapy. He opined that relying on imported medicine makes it nearly impossible to offer access to HIV treatment to the teeming West African population who currently need it.
He concluded that the local production of Anti-Retroviral (ARVs) drugs in the region would drive down costs and increase access to treatment thus helping to address the problem of frequent ARV stock-outs in the region.
In 2010, the West African Health Organization (WAHO) supported DANADAMS Pharmaceutical Company in Accra, Ghana and EVANS Pharmaceutical Company, Lagos Nigeria to produce antiretroviral drugs for the benefit of the Gambia, Togo and Benin.