By Wallace Mawire
The Africa Health Agenda International Conference (AHAIC) 2019 – “Africa Health 2019” will take place from 5-7 March 2019 at the Kigali Convention Center in Rwanda. Africa Health 2019 will be preceded by a Youth Pre-conference on 3-4 March 2019. Co-hosted by Amref Health Africa and Rwanda’s Ministry of Health, the conference will bring together diverse stakeholders to address how Africa can accelerate progress toward Universal Health Coverage (UHC) – and to collectively chart a course forward, from commitment to action.
It will be held under the theme:2030 Now: Multi-sectoral Action to Achieve Universal Health Coverage in Africa
Access • Quality • Financing • Accountability
Africa Health 2019 will be the largest African-led health convening on the continent with over 1,500 participants expected. World leaders such as Dr. Diane Gashumba (Minister of Health, Republic of Rwanda and Co-Chair, Africa Health 2019 Organising Committee), Dr. Matshidiso Moeti (WHO Regional Director for Africa) and Toyin Saraki (Founder and President, Wellbeing Foundation Africa) will join youth, researchers, civil society and community leaders, as well as trailblazers and innovators making an impact and inspiring change across the continent, to discuss the most important health challenges and advancements in Africa and co-create home-grown solutions. The conference will serve as the go-to forum for African leaders to map how new research, innovation and political commitments will help drive Africa’s UHC progress over the next decade.
Africa is at a critical moment in the pursuit of UHC. Most countries recognise the importance of “health for all,” both as a means of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and because it is the right thing to do. In addition, political will for UHC is at all-time high. In 2016, African heads of state launched the Universal Health Coverage in Africa: A Framework for Action during the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD-VI) Summit.1
However, much remains to be done to realize the dream of UHC in Africa. Countries across the continent are still struggling to drive down maternal and child mortality, malaria and malnutrition while addressing the rising burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs, such as diabetes and cancer). In addition, although Africa accounts for 24% of the global burden of disease, it has only 3% of the global health workforce and 11 million Africans are pushed into poverty and remain poor every year due to health care costs.
Africa Health 2019 will address these and more issues in engaging settings – from main plenaries and partner-led side sessions to scientific workshops and youth-led innovation forums. Specific areas of focus for the conference will include: communicable and non-communicable diseases; health in fragile settings; water, sanitation and hygiene; sexual and reproductive health and rights; innovation and technology; and accountability for health.