The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MoH&SW) through the Directorate of Health Promotion and Education on Tuesday commemorated the 29th anniversary of the West African Health Organisation (WAHO).
The event was held on the theme: “Regional Integration and Health Security in ECOWAS: Role of the ECOWAS Regional Centre for Disease Surveillance and Control (ECOWAS- RCDC)”; with a view to informing and sensitising Member States and the International Community on the mission of the Centre.
The WAHO Day is commemorated each year worldwide on 9th July. WAHO was established in 1987 after the West African Member States met in Abuja to sign a protocol, with one of the objectives which is the attainment of highest possible standard of the protection of people in the sub-region through harmonisation of policies of the Member States, pulling of resources and cooperation of one and another for the collective strategic combat against health problems in the sub-regions.
WAHO has now moved from ECOWAS of States to ECOWAS of the people and the sub-regional organisation funded protocol is being entrusted with the political mandate by the head of states and government to ensure coordination of regional health interventions within the ECOWAS region.
Speaking at the briefing, the Permanent Secretary Technical at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Janko Jimbara, said WAHO is an important sub-regional organisation that has a mandate to support member countries to strengthen their health services, adding that this sub-regional organisation has done a lot to the sub-regional countries since its inception, but little is known about them.
According to him, WAHO is the only institution specialised in health matters in the region, whose main mission is to provide the highest level of health care benefits to the ECOWAS population ß.
The mission, he went on, is still being pursued fully, determinedly and successfully thanks to the cooperation with ECOWAS Member States and partners support.
PS Jimbara maintained that despite efforts and significant achievements registered in recent decades, the sub-regional organisation has enormous health challenges.
These challenges he highlighted include weak preparedness and response to epidemics and other health emergencies, as evidenced by the outbreak of Ebola virus disease that severely strained countries’ health system, leading to serious health and socio-economic consequences for the region.
Modou Njai, Director of Health Promotion and Education at the said Ministry, described WAHO Day as an important day for those in the health sector, because this day is set aside to remind themselves as health personnel as to what they need to do.
This year’s commemoration, he added, is about raising awareness on disease prevention surveillance as well as what the people need to do to prevent themselves from disease especially communicable diseases.
Njai thus urged the media to help them sensitise the public on what they need to do when it comes to disease prevention control in The Gambia.
The Deputy Director of Health Promotion and Education, Sanjally Trawally informed that the organisation has been in existence for three decades now, but they want people to know about the organisation.
Trawally indicated that WAHO is an important organisation and is contributing a lot towards the development of the country’s health sector.
by Arfang MS Camara