RC54 ends: nominates new Regional Director, adopts resolutions

RC54 ends: nominates new Regional Director, adopts resolutions

Brazzaville, 3 September 2004 --- The fifty-fourth Session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa ended Friday in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, after nominating a new Regional Director and adopting resolutions aimed at scaling up action in critical areas that are key to improving the health situation in the region.

On Thursday, the session voted to nominate Dr Luis Gomes Sambo of Angola as the new Regional Director to succeed Dr Ebrahim Samba of The Gambia who retires in January 2005. Dr Sambo's nomination will be submitted for appointment to the WHO Executive Board scheduled to meet in Geneva from 17 to 25 January 2005. He is expected to assume office on 1 February 2005.

The Regional Committee, WHO's Governing Body in the African Region, adopted resolutions endorsing reports prepared by the Regional Office on: addressing the resurgence of wild poliovirus transmission; repositioning family planning in reproductive health services; preventing and managing child sexual abuse; improving access to care and treatment for HIV/AIDS; strengthening national health information systems, and improving occupational health and safety in the region.

The resolution on polio urged Member States to, among other things, develop plans to ensure rapid response to wild poliovirus importation, strengthen routine immunization and polio surveillance, strengthen political commitment and leadership at all levels to facilitate quality implementation of the appropriate polio eradication strategies. 

Delegates called on countries to improve access by all to a full range of information and family planning services and commodities, as well as explore the possibilities for local production of quality family planning commodities. Member States should also incorporate maternal and newborn health, including family planning, into their national and sub-national development plans.

The meeting urged countries to break the silence surrounding child sexual abuse through open dialogue; develop action plans for the prevention, care and management of child sexual abuse; create or strengthen institutions responsible for the social needs of children, and establish multisectoral, multidisciplinary and coordinated responses involving health professionals, social scientists, law enforcement agencies and the community, among others.

On HIV/AIDS, the meeting called on Member States to develop and implement comprehensive plans for improving access to treatment and care; simplify approaches to HIV testing, counseling, treatment and monitoring; incorporate the scaling up of treatment and care into broad efforts to strengthen national health systems, and promote and support partnerships in the development and delivery of treatment services.

The resolution on the strengthening of national health information systems urged countries to adopt a national policy on national health information systems as part of their national health policy. They should also evaluate their national health information systems to identify their weaknesses and needs, review and update national essential health indicators, and ensure the dissemination and effective use of data collected for day-to-day operations and strategic planning.

In view of the critical situation of occupational health and safety in most countries of the region, the meeting adopted a resolution calling on Member States to, among others, develop and implement policies that promote health and safe workplaces. It said countries should also develop and strengthen occupational health and safety institutions to ensure sustained management, capacity building and research.

The meeting accepted an offer by Mozambique to host the fifty-fifth session of the Regional Committee from 22 to 26 August 2005.

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