July 14, 2009

Osotimehin seeks better response to epidemics

By Chinyere Amalu
Health Minister Prof. Babatunde Oshotimehin has attributed poor and inadequate funding, poor political will as the major challenges facing the control of epidemic outbreak in the West African countries.

Osotimehin  who spoke  in Abuja at the 22nd anniversary of West Africa Health Organization (WAHO) with the theme “ Epidemic control- a challenge for ECOWAS Countries” said, “We should be proactive in the way we handle epidemic control”.

WAHO is ECOWAS specialized institution created in 1987 responsible for health harmonizing issues polices, and offer highest level health care delivery to the population of the sub region.

He said the celebration is in recognition of the need for proactive intervention to prevent the spread of Epidemics especially among the growing population of the West African countries.

“The challenges facing control of epidemic disease in the West African countries are many, some of the which are poor and inadequate funding, couple with poor political will especially at sub-national levels. Inadequate human and material resources and lack of capacity building are also major challenges to a successful epidemic control.”

Osotimehin who commended the efforts of WAHO, also called on other international agencies and non-governmental organizations to continue to assist the government in the provision of drugs, vaccine and diagnostic facilities for early detection, confirmation and treatment of these diseases.

Director-General of WAHO, Dr. Placido Monteiro CARDOSO, underscored the political will of the national authorities to support IDSR and commend the considerable efforts made by the countries n epidemics prevention and management.

“One aspect of the mission assigned to WAHO is to support the efforts of ECOWAS Member States to reduce the heavy burden of morbidity and mortality resulting from epidemic prone diseases as well as their negative impact on the region’s economic development”.

Cardoso said since the creation and by virtue of its mandate, WAHO has been assigned the duty of establishing and driving a regional coordination dynamic for the preparation and response to epidemics in collaboration with the States and technical and financial partners.

“Despite the multiple problems and difficulties facing the countries, the political will of the authorities to support IDSR, the preparedness of technical and financial partners to support Member States and the existence of financial projects and organizations at the regional level constitute so many advantages which galvanise WAHO in its determination to control epidemic.”