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Partners in the Harmonization for Health in Africa (HHA) initiative convened in Nairobi on October 4 and 5, as a follow-up to the recent Tunis Ministerial Conference for African Health and Finance Ministers.
Regional Directors, senior representatives and a multidisciplinary group of technical experts from the HHA partner agencies used the opportunity to discuss how to further strengthen their support to countries in providing quality and affordable healthcare to African populations, particularly the under-served.
Through exchanging experiences on the partnership’s approach to advocacy, technical support, resource mobilization, among other topics, the delegates sought solutions to support countries in a more cohesive and effective manner. A key objective was to come up with an action plan for implementing the “Tunis Declaration on Value for Money, Sustainability and Accountability in the Health Sector.”
“Although African countries have made progress towards the health MDGs, there is an urgent need to expand the universal health coverage that enhances access to quality healthcare and reduces catastrophic out-of-pocket expenditures,” said Dr. Luis Sambo, WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, and Chairman of HHA.
“Developing innovative health financing mechanisms, along with promoting efficient and equitable use of the available resources will contribute towards sustaining the health gains, and serve as a significant step towards the attainment of the MDGs and other internationally agreed goals,” he added.
The meeting offered a platform for HHA partners to come together and develop clear guidance that will assist partners at country levels to address key barriers and bottlenecks in their citizens’ access to health services. The participants also looked for ways for African countries to effectively integrate social, demographic and health factors into broader development strategies.
“As evident in the Tunis Declaration, African countries have increasingly recognized that wider and more equitable coverage of health services is indeed possible,” says Elhadj As Sy, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa. “Despite the essential role health plays in economic growth and reduction of poverty and inequity, only a handful of countries have been able to meet the pledge made in the Abuja Declaration,” he added. “The partnership of HHA, therefore, bears the responsibility of helping countries fight against corruption, and improve governance – specifically transparency, accountability and sustainability.”
Harmonization for Health in Africa (HHA) is a collaborative initiative of the African Development Bank (AfBD); Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA); Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad); the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund); Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS); United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women); United States Agency for International Development (USAID); World Health Organization (WHO); and the World Bank to provide regional support to governments in Africa in strengthening their health systems.
HHA was created as a mechanism to facilitate and coordinate the process of country-led development in all aspects of health systems strengthening. Since its inception, the collaborating partners have supported African countries in their efforts to accelerate the attainment of MDGs through strengthening their health systems, especially health financing, human resources for health, pharmaceuticals and supply chains, governance and service delivery, infrastructure and ICT, in line with the Paris Declaration.