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African Legislators Unite in Support of Robust Health Emergency Preparedness

Accra, Ghana – November 10, 2023 – In an unprecedented gathering, African lawmakers convened for the continent’s inaugural parliamentary meeting on health security. The consensus reached during the 8–10 November 2023 meeting in Accra focused on endorsing actions that strengthen health systems, enabling nations to effectively prevent, prepare, and respond to public health threats.

Jointly organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the historic event aimed to heighten parliamentary awareness regarding ongoing negotiations for the first-ever global Pandemic Accord. The discussions also delved into amendments to the International Health Regulations, responding to challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lawmakers expressed their commitment to establishing a unified African stance in the ongoing negotiations for global health security governance instruments. The meeting emphasized the pivotal role of parliamentarians in fostering resilient health systems capable of delivering quality services and ensuring a prompt national response to health emergencies.

“In these critical times, our roles as parliamentarians are more vital than ever in steering our countries towards health security and resilience,” declared Hon Alban Kingsford Suman Bagbin, the Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana.

Through their core functions of law-making, budgeting, oversight, and representation, parliamentarians can facilitate multisectoral action, engage in international partnerships, and play a critical role in advancing global health security, universal health coverage, and the health-related goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Hon Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, Ghana’s Minister for Health, affirmed the significant role of parliamentarians in promoting health equity, bridging inequities in access to healthcare, and influencing health security through legislation, budget allocation, oversight, and international agreements.

The political declarations and outcomes of the conference are set to complement global processes, including the Inter-governmental Negotiation Body for the Pandemic Accord and the Working Group on amendments to the International Health Regulations. These efforts align with a common agenda to address gaps exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, underscored the decisive role of parliaments and parliamentarians in translating political declarations on universal health coverage and pandemic preparedness into actionable initiatives.

The Parliamentary High-level Conference, uniting legislators from across the continent, seeks to strengthen multisectoral coordination for health emergency preparedness, contributing to the vision of a reinforced global health architecture.

“Bolstering preparedness necessitates legislation and investment across multiple sectors beyond health, resilient health systems, and effective coordination at national, regional, and global levels,” emphasized Mr Martin Chungong, the IPU Secretary General.

The conference aligns with the WHO African regional health security and emergencies strategy 2023-2030, emphasizing the importance of an effective legislative framework to enhance the preparedness capacities of countries in the African region.

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