Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – November 10, 2023 – In a groundbreaking move to bolster community health systems across the African continent, the Africa CDC inaugurated the first-ever Continental Community Health Coordination Mechanism during the 2nd High-Level Meeting on the Community Health Workers Programme held in Addis Ababa.
Recent studies by the African Union Commission, Africa CDC, and their partners indicate commendable progress in enhancing community health systems. However, persistent challenges demand attention, including inadequate funding and sustainability of national community health programs, gaps in information systems, and coordination issues.
Recognizing the need for a comprehensive strategy, the Continental Community Health Coordination Mechanism was introduced to facilitate coordination among Member States and other stakeholders. Comprising a Continental Community Health Task Force and Technical Working Group, the mechanism aims to institutionalize, integrate, and coordinate community health worker programs in Africa.
The task force, led by representatives from the Africa Union Commission, Africa CDC, Member States, and implementing partners, will provide overarching leadership and guidance. It will play a pivotal role in advocating for the cause and ensuring effective coordination.
The Technical Working Group comprises three sub-groups:
- Community Health Policy, Guidelines, and SOP: Chaired by Dr. Douaa Sally from Egypt, with co-chairmanship from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
- Community Health Financing and Sustainability: Headed by Mr. Olasford Weah from Liberia, co-chaired by Africa Frontline First (AFF).
- Monitoring and Evaluation: Dr. Adjoba Francoise Kadja from Cote d’Ivoire serves as chair, with co-chairmanship by UNICEF.
Key officials elected to lead these sub-groups include Dr. Richard Kabanda, Director of Health Promotion at the Ministry of Health in Uganda, as the Chair of the Technical Working Group.
In his inaugural speech, Dr. Mohammed Abdulaziz, Head of the Division of Disease Control and Prevention, expressed joy at the establishment of continental structures to enhance community health in Africa. He emphasized the critical role of Community Health Workers in delivering integrated services at the national level.
Representatives from key partners, including UNICEF, Africa Frontline First, IFRC, and UNAIDS, endorsed the established structures and pledged support for their operationalization.
As the High-Level meeting concluded, the sub-groups outlined their program of work for the next three months, signaling a commitment to advancing community health initiatives in Africa. The mechanisms put in place are poised to shape the trajectory of community health for the better in the coming years.