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Jan 18
HST leadership participate in the 2nd International Conference on Public Health in Africa
By: Fiorenza Monticelli (HST Business Development Specialist)
HST leadership attending the conference: Rakshika Bhana (Programme Manager: Health Systems Strengthening), Fiorenza Monticelli (Business Development Specialist), Felicity Basson (SA SURE PRO Operations Manager) and Dr Themba Moeti (CEO).
The 2nd International Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA 2022), took place at the Kigali Convention Center, Rwanda, from 12–15 December 2022 with the theme: “Preparedness for Future Pandemics and Post-Pandemic Recovery: Africa at a Crossroads”. Attendees from HST included Dr Themba Moeti (CEO), Rakshika Bhana (Programme Manager: Health Systems Strengthening), Felicity Basson (SA SURE PRO Operations Manager) and Fiorenza Monticelli (Business Development Specialist).
Over 2 500 delegates from across ninety countries attended the conference with the majority (87%) being from Africa. This was an excellent opportunity for HST to network with leaders, funders, policy makers, consultants and health implementers across the continent. The conference was led by the African Union through their specialised technical institution, the Africa CDC, established to support public health initiatives of Member States and strengthen the capacity of their public health institutions.

The conference themes, which were unpacked across the nine plenaries, 14 parallel sessions, nine abstract sessions and two special sessions were relevant to health priorities on the continent as well as globally. The conference was timely and the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic re-emphasised that as health professionals in Africa we need to:

  • strengthen our public health institutions, from the local level to continent-wide;
  • engage in Africa-led partnerships with external actors; 
  • develop and produce our own vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics; and
  • improve coordination between countries and between levels of government. 

Many of the emerging challenges that we experience in South Africa are common across the continent. Longstanding diseases like malaria, TB and HIV still remain, while the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is growing, mental health is critically under resourced and there is a need for increased digitalisation and interoperability of systems and the scaling up of successful health implementation pilot projects. The conference also highlighted the huge burden of cancers in Africa in the context of severely under resourced oncology services. 

More investment is required in research and development, so that African counties can be more self-sustaining and less dependent on external solutions and donor funding for their national programs.

Debates and dialogues emphasised trust as a key element required to sustain growth and to underpin stability on the continent. Trust is needed within and between countries, between private and public sectors, and between funders and governments in order to build partnerships that will realise Africa’s potential. More importantly, building trust in the community is vital to implement and achieve health goals. 

Another key element that was addressed was gender equity – the plenary “Women in Health – from recipients to providers to leaders”, highlighted that women should lead in the creation of gender inclusive health systems and ended with a robust debate on the topic “Have we made progress on gender equity in health leadership in Africa?”. The outcome of the voting was in favour of “Yes, we have made progress” – but with the reservation that progress was insufficient and more could be done, and to urgently ensure that “women also have a seat around the decision-making table”. Furthermore, it was good to see that the awards for excellence in health and health research were awarded to three women. 

The next CPHIA conference is scheduled for 2023 and will be held in Lusaka, Zambia.


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