10 November 2023, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – The African Union member states have made significant progress in strengthening community health systems across the continent. The findings of recent studies carried out by the African Union Commission, Africa CDC and its partners show that, despite the progress made, certain challenges still need to be addressed. Notably, the inadequate funding and sustainability of national community health programs, for which only 21% of 42 participating Member States have an investment case, gaps in the community health information system, for which 71% of countries still use a paper-based data collection system and 32% have no database of community health workers; gaps in community health policies and guidelines, for which only 55% of countries have a costed strategic plan and 18% have no plan at all, among other challenges coupled with lack of coordination of players characterised by CH programs verticalisation.
The fragmentation and inadequate coordination seen at the country level is also reflected at the regional and continental level. Therefore, coordination and synchronization among various sectors and stakeholders is essential, particularly for CH policy and strategy development and operationalization, joint planning, implementation, management and monitoring and evaluation of the efforts being put forward in strengthening community health in Africa. A need for a robust coordination platform and mechanism that can bring together all Member States and other community health stakeholders sharing a common goal towards building resilient, integrated, sustainable and effective community health workforce, programs and systems in Africa is required.
As a continental Institution, Africa CDC through the Division of Disease Control and Prevention held the 2nd High-Level Meeting on the Community Health Workers Programme in Addis Ababa-Ethiopia from 8th-10th November, 2023. This meeting brought together over 42 Member States, partners and other community health stakeholders.
This meeting aimed to set up and launch the Continental Community Health Coordination Mechanism, consisting of a Continental Community Health Task Force and Technical Working Group to oversee the Institutionalization, Integration and Coordination of Community Health Worker Programme in Africa to achieve the call for One Plan, One Budget and One Monitoring and Evaluation Plan on the continent in line with Africa CDC strategic direction, the new Public Health Order and the 2 million CHWs initiative.
The task force is constituted of representatives of the Africa Union Commission, Africa CDC, Member States, and implementing partners championing community health on the continent. The role of the Task Force is to provide overall leadership and guidance to the work of the Continental Community Health Coordination Mechanism and will also support in advocacy efforts.
The Technical Working Group has three sub-groups namely: The Sub-group on Community Health Policy, Guidelines, and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), The Sub-group on Community Health Financing and Sustainability and The Sub-group on Monitoring and Evaluation.
Elected Officials of the Continental Community Health Coordinating Mechanism includes:
- Technical Working Group: Dr. Richard Kabanda, Director of Health Promotion Ministry Health of Uganda was Unanimously elected as the Chair of the Technical Working Group which will be co-chaired by Africa CDC.
- Sub-group on CH Policy, Guidelines, and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP): The Sub-group will be chaired by Dr Douaa Sally Head of Central Administration of Family Planning Services and Commodities and Director of National Program of CHWs from Egypt and Co-Chaired by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
- Sub-group on Community Health Financing and Sustainability: The Sub-group will be chaired by Mr. Olasford Weah Director of Community Health Services from the Republic of Liberia and Co-Chaired by Africa Frontline First (AFF).
- Sub-group on Monitoring and Evaluation: The Sub-group on Monitoring and Evaluation will be chaired by Dr. Adjoba Francoise Kadja Director of Community Health and Health Promotion from Cote d’Ivoire and Co-Chaired by UNICEF.
In his inaugural speech, the Head of Division of Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Mohammed Abdulaziz expressed his profound joy to see the Continental Structures being formed to improve community health in Africa. According to him, the leadership under H.E Jean Kaseya will continue to engage Member States and Key Partners to ensure the good health and well-being of Africa. Dr. Mohammed further underscored the importance and critical role of Community Health Workers in the delivery of integrated service at Member States’ levels. Similarly, representatives of our key partners; UNICEF, Africa Frontline First, IFRC and UNAIDS endorsed the established structures and promised to support its operationalization.
At the end of the High-Level meeting, the various sub-groups came up with their programme of work for the next three months, which will be reviewed and further given a push to the end of the first year of operationalization.
About the Africa CDC
Africa CDC is a continental autonomous health agency of the African Union established to support public health initiatives of Member States and strengthen the capacity of their public health institutions to detect, prevent, control and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats, based on science, policy, and data-driven interventions and programmes. Learn more at the www.africacdc.org
Thaddee Niyoyitungira| CHS Program Lead & RISLNET project coordinator|Division of Disease Control and Prevention| Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention | email: NiyoyitungiraT@africacdc.org | Website: www.africacdc.org | Addis Ababa | Ethiopia | Facebook | Twitter
Media Inquiry Ms. Ndahafa Nakwafila | Ag. Director, Communication and Public Information| Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention | email: NakwafilaN@africa-union.org| M: +251 92 99 79 820 | email: email@example.com | Website: www.africacdc.org | Addis Ababa | Ethiopia | Facebook | Twitter