Member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Friday, 13th May, 2022, signed a declaration in Accra, the capital of Ghana, to commit to achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The pact, titled “The Accra Declaration,” was signed by all 15 member states at the opening of the 23rd Ordinary Meeting of the Assembly of ECOWAS Health Ministers.
“This declaration is a series of commitments we have discussed with the ministers to commit to delivering UHC,” said Stanley Okolo, the director-general of the West African Health Organization (WAHO). Through these commitments, ECOWAS countries would ensure that all the processes in terms of domestic funding would be done to remove areas where there are issues that increase out-of-pocket spending by individuals on health as much as possible, Okolo said, noting that ECOWAS member states would also improve access to health for vulnerable populations through these commitments.
“Providing access to UHC for the vulnerable is critical because what we observed is that COVID-19 has pushed the vulnerable more into poverty. In addition to that, the member states will also collaborate among themselves, learning from one another to achieve UHC,” he stated. The Accra Declaration also focused on collaboration to develop traditional medicine as an alternative source of therapy. It also highlighted the development of the pharmaceutical industry in the subregion to bridge the gap between demand and supply of medications.
“We must not allow the economic impact of COVID-19 to increase the social inequalities in health between and within our countries,” said Ghana’s Minister for Health Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, who is also chairman of the Assembly of ECOWAS Health Ministers. “We must use this opportunity to reform and improve our healthcare systems, and in my opinion, learning from one another will help us assess and improve our health systems.”
Reported by: Adepa Basit