There is no better time to underscore the importance of Public Health than during the COVID-19 pandemic when the whole world has been thrown into a state of disarray. As the world grapple with this disease, which has claimed many lives, disrupted human interactions and left many people without a source of livelihood, the urgent and pressing need for resilient public health systems in protecting people and improving health outcomes has been profoundly highlighted. The pandemic has exposed how nations across the world, both high and low income, are not aptly prepared for unanticipated health events. The Global Health system is FRAGILE.
In step with the clarion call to strengthen Public Health Systems and adequately respond to the pandemic, Travel 4 Change Adventures, hosted the Building the Africa We Want Conference, ostensibly to discuss and highlight the Africa’s Public Health priority areas. The event was strategic as it coincided with the Africa Day, an annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organization of African Unity on 25 May 1963.
I am glad to have been a Keynote Speaker at this conference and joined other speakers during a Panel Discussion on “PUBLIC HEALTH: A MAJOR PRIORITY IN AFRICA NATIONS.” During the keynote presentation and the discussion, I was sure to acknowledge that the world is undergoing epidemiological transition from infectious diseases to chronic diseases. While infectious disease are still emerging, chronic diseases are now claiming more lives than any other disease. Sobering statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) reveals that NCDs, are by far the leading cause of death in the world, representing 63% of all annual deaths and kill more that 36 million of people each year. As such, Africa Nations must see into it that NCDs interventions are prioritized and adequate budget allotted. There must now be a multi-faceted approach to public health, the kind that makes it resilient and able to withstand pandemics such as COVID-19 and respond to NCDs.
I was also keen to underscore the role of young people in ensuring public Health. I implored young people to step up, leverage their energy and altruism to improve the health outcomes of their communities. Some of the things I suggested the young people can do include leveraging the social media for health messaging, innovating around the cutting-edge themes in Public Health and joining a cause and initiatives that are geared towards improving public health.
I am hoping that the resolutions and the communique from this conference will have far-reaching public health insights, not only for Africa, but also for the world at large.