Speech Pr RASAMINDRAKOTROKA Andry, Vice-Chairman of the Fifty Second Session of the Regional Committe for Africa


Honourable Minister of Defence of the Republic of South Africa,

The Commissioner for Social Affairs, representing the African Union,

Honourable ministers and heads of delegation,

The WHO Director‐General,

The WHO Regional Director for Africa,

Excellencies members of the diplomatic corps,

Distinguished representatives of the United Nations system, multilateral and

bilateral cooperation agencies and nongovernmental organizations,

Distinguished members of country delegations,

Members of the organizing committee,

Distinguished invited guests,

Ladies and gentlemen.

On behalf of my colleagues ministers of health and heads of delegation and also on behalf of WHO, I wish to express how honoured I feel to be asked, in my capacity as Vice‐chairman  of the fifty‐second session of the Regional Committee and in accordance with the rules of procedure, to chair the opening session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa until a new chairman is nominated.


Ladies and gentlemen,

I wish to start my address by welcoming you all to this session which, once again, is providing us with an opportunity to take stock of the health situation in the African Region and, together, to look for the ways and means to promote health for the speedy, smooth and sustainable development of Africa. On behalf of all delegates gathered here, I should like to use this opportunity to express our warm greetings and our profound gratitude to the honourable Minister of Defence of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Mosiuoa Lekota for having graced this opening ceremony with his presence in spite of his very many and very important other obligations.

I wish to express our gratefulness to the Government of the Republic of South Africa for having accepted to host this important meeting in this beautiful city of Johannesburg. Our thankfulness also goes to the people of the Republic of South Africa for their warm hospitality and to the World Health Organization for the good quality of organization of this meeting. Last but not least, I should like to use this occasion to convey to you the brotherly and cordial greetings of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Madagascar, Mr Marc Ravalomanana, and his wishes for the full success of our deliberations.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

A year has already passed since the last meeting of the Regional Committee was held in Harare, Zimbabwe. The health situation of countries of our region is still a major source of concern given the emergence of new social and health problems and the effects of the global economic crisis. Our continent is suffering the tragic consequences of epidemics, natural disasters, wars and conflicts, problems of maternal and child health, all of which are adversely affecting our already weak health systems and are further worsening the problems of poverty and inequality.

Our region has gone through particularly severe emergencies such as:

• Galloping trend of HIV/AIDS which is taking a heavy toll on the populations.

• Degradation of infrastructures and loss of human lives resulting from natural disasters.

• Persistent internal conflicts resulting in discrimination, immigration, exodus and resurgence of epidemic diseases.

• Drought and famine that are affecting our region.

These repeated humanitarian crises are making us lose out on the health gains we have made from several decades of effort. Lastly, socio‐economic and political upheavals have had negative effects on the resources available for health.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

At our last session, recommendations were made and resolutions passed on issues such as:

• Adoption of the 2004‐2005 Programme‐Budget;

• Re‐direction of national EPI strategic plans of action for the 2003‐2005 period;

• Consideration of environment‐related health problems;

• Updating of national health policies based on a long‐term planning approach and increased budget allocation to the health sector in accordance with the Abuja Declaration;

• Development of human resources as a matter of priority.

Taking these resolutions into account, the work of WHO in the African Region grew considerably in the past year, especially in the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, trypanosomiasis, polio, etc. Efforts made in tobacco control have been crowned with success, with the adoption at the Fifty‐sixth World Health Regional Committee: Fifty-third session (Part III) Page 139

Assembly of the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control. Concerning the

situation of African women, interventions were undertaken mainly on the implementation of anti‐violence programmes, operationalization of the reproductive health of adolescents, and promotion of safe motherhood.

Upon reading the themes we are called upon to discuss, very important decisions await us at the end of this meeting. Indeed, at its last meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe, from 8 to 12 October 2002, the Regional committee decided that the present session would discuss:

• macroeconomics and health: the way forward in the African Region;

• strengthening of the role of hospitals in national health systems;

• women’s health ‐ a strategy for the African Region;

• scaling up interventions related to HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let us be realistic: in Africa, poverty, social conflicts and insecurity are factors that perpetuate the outbreaks of endemic diseases. But we have demonstrated our unity of purpose and our capacity to solve our problems. We have done our best and I am convinced that we will continue to do so until the improvement of the health situation of our people becomes a reality. Before ending my address, I would like to reiterate my warm and sincere thanks to the WHO Regional Director for Africa and his team of WHO Staff for their constant devotion and unflinching support to our countries.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I hope that the solidarity that binds us will grow even more in order that the African Region can achieve smooth and sustainable health and economic development.

Thank you

Reference on line "http://afrolib.afro.who.int/RC/RC53/en/AFR-RC53FinalReport.pdf"

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