WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan, on Thursday explained that she used one of her six core areas of action in the years ahead –evidence and information for policy – as the basis for making Africa one of her priorities during her tenure.
“The evidence before us shows that Africa with a mere 10% of the world’s population carries a disproportionate burden of the global disease burden. The continent has the world’s highest maternal and child mortality rates. So, where else to focus attention but Africa? It is only logical,” Dr Chan told WHO staff at the organization’s Africa Regional Office in Brazzaville on Wednesday.
She used the occasion of 38th Regional Programme Meeting – a statutory Programme Budget formulation, monitoring and evaluation forum -- to outline the other core areas of action during her tenure. These are development for health, health security, health systems strengthening, partnership and the performance of WHO.
“For me development for health is a passion. I reject pessimism in some quarters that are tempted to give up on Africa because of its daunting challenges. This is unacceptable thinking’” she said
On health and security, Dr Chan said the entering into force of the International Health Regulations (2005) in June will promote transparency in reporting public health emergencies of international concern; help to manage outbreaks and mitigate their impact.
She also spoke about cooperation and partnerships stressing that WHO must work with the large and increasing number of players in the health sector while concentrating on its known competences and maintaining its leadership role in health matters.
On the ongoing reforms in the United Nations system, Dr Chan stated that WHO must be a positive and active participant in the process and promised that WHO will be well represented in all meetings convened to discuss the reform process.
Dr Chan expressed understanding of the conditions under which WHO staff at the Regional and some Country Offices work and praised them for their dedication.
“I want you to know how much I appreciate your commitment to WHO and to public health. I will continue to champion for you. I count on you and you can count one me,” the Director General said.