With 2030 around the corner, it is time to formulate firm ambitions.

Editorial by H.E. Mrs Amira Elfadil Mohamed, Commissioner for Social AffairsAfrican Union Commission

Hope for an Africa free of disease burden is the only one thing that keeps us rising back up after every public health crisis we have encountered as a continent. Countries and communities have come together over the years to mobilize financial resources, instigate innovations and participate in designing health services that meet their needs. Together, we have gained public health breakthroughs and saved lives. It will be no different, in 2020 and beyond.

2020 is unique and we, at the Commission are making sure that we start the New Year right with bold resolutions and fresh ideas to help us attain our goals. Our eyes are set on all the continental health policy commitments and respective health-related goals to be attained by 2030. With only ten years to go, we are working out strategies to ensure that the roadmap for ending disease burden, increasing political will and financial adequacy is in our grasp.

Specifically, we are looking into the progress made by African Union (AU) Member States in implementing the Africa Health Strategy 2016 – 2030. The policy framework provides strategic direction to AU Member States in their efforts in creating better performing health sectors and addressing key challenges facing efforts to reduce the continent’s disease burden.  It is premised on: Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want; Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development; Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Continental Policy Framework; Maputo Plan of Action (2016-2030); Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa (PMPA; African Regional Nutrition Strategy 2015 – 2025 (ARNS), the various AU Abuja commitments, calls, declarations aimed at combatting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in Africa; Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent Health 2016 – 2030; and Catalytic Framework to End AIDS, TB and Eliminate Malaria in Africa by 2030.

The Commission will also engage AU Member States on the successes, challenges as well as existing opportunities and challenges regarding implementation of the Catalytic Framework. This  Framework was endorsed by Heads of States and Government in 2016 to intensify Africa-wide consensus towards eliminating the three diseases as public health threats by 2030. The collected information will be used in the review of the Framework to ensure positive outcomes come 2030.

2020 is also critical in firming up the African Union’s efforts towards realising a conflict-free Africa. End of conflict, or reduction of it, will free-up resources for many African countries which can be re-directed to meeting socio-economic and development needs. It will also broaden the path of successful implementation of the ALM Declaration among AU Member States. The ALM Declaration was endorsed by African Heads of States and Government in February 2019 as an indication of commitment to spur a reorientation of Africa’s health systems and health spending. The Commission was tasked with the responsibility to advocate for adoption of the ALM Declaration and its asks among AU Member States.

On that account, the ALM Declaration agenda is also high on our list of priorities. The Commission will conduct its first RECs assessment mission in February to evaluate the capacity of the East Africa Community to host a regional health financing hub. In addition, the formation of technical working groups and subcommittees is currently ongoing. The members will shape and lead the strategic direction in which implementation of the ALM Declaration heads. Towards the end of the year, there will be a high-level statutory meeting of Ministers of Health and Finance from AU Member States to discuss how they can work together to bring the asks of the ALM Declaration to life.

Evidently, much is on our plate but it is all achievable especially at a time when the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) is setting up more Regional Collaborating Centres (RCCs) within the continent. RCCs are technical support institutions for the Africa CDC that support surveillance, laboratory systems and networks, information systems, emergency preparedness and response, capacity development and public health research in AU Member States. The operationalization of the RCCs in all five regions of Africa is contributing immensely to empowering the leadership role of Africa CDC as an Africa-owned institution that prevents, detects, and responds to public health threats, hence strengthening global health security.

We have made it this far with the relentless support of our global partners. The scale and ambition of continental and global commitments require a strong network of partners in the areas of research, technology, innovation, finance and human capacity to advance sustainable solutions to cross-cutting development issues. The past decade consisted of valuable multi-stakeholder partnerships which have enhanced the Commission’s ability to achieve its full potential in delivering sustainable solutions to Africa’s most complex and pressing socio-economic challenges. Nurturing impactful partnerships will remain a priority for the Commission.

As we walk into a new decade, Africa should keep hope alive for the sake of sustaining momentum towards attaining the Africa we want. The African Union Commission will continue to work tirelessly in collaboration with our global partners so that come 2030, it will not only be a continental sense of pride but a global celebration too. The health of the continent, and of the world, depends on all of us keeping our commitments.