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EDGING CLOSER TO GLOBAL POLIO ERADICATION


T


he World Health Organization’s (WHO) Africa region has been


officially certified as wild poliovirus free – with zero cases in the past four years. Celebration of this milestone was


front and center of the 70th WHO Regional Committee for Africa, which brought together (virtually) participants


including WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidio Moeti, health ministers from each of the WHO AFRO 47 member states and representatives of various international organizations. Now, five of the six WHO regions –


representing over 90 percent of the world’s population – are polio free. This achievement brings the world closer to global polio eradication. Only two countries worldwide continue to see wild poliovirus transmission: Pakistan and Afghanistan. The event also provided the opportunity to analyze COVID-19 response efforts and to consider how to build a more resilient health system for achieving universal health coverage in Africa. Other public health issues discussed included: • Boosting the quality and equity of health service delivery in the region


• Bridging the quality gap to accelerate progress towards meeting the SDG targets for maternal, newborn and child health


WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidio Moeti


• Enhancing the role of traditional medicines in health systems


OPEC Fund Technical Assistance Officer, Souhad Khriesat


• Implementing e-health solutions to improve national health systems in the WHO African Region The OPEC Fund was represented at the meeting by Dr Mahmoud Khene, Regional Director, West and Central Africa, and Souhad Khriesat, Technical Assistance Officer.


WORKING WITH THE WHO


"Since 1979, the OPEC Fund has approved more than US$30 million in grant funding for a wide range of WHO health programs across the globe,” says the OPEC Fund’s Head of Grants and Technical Assistance, Dr Walid Mehalaine. “This includes support of a polio eradication program across conflict-affected African countries. More recently, the OPEC Fund extended emergency aid grants toward WHO’s COVID-19-related efforts in Latin America and Asia.”


OPEC Fund’s Head of Grants and Technical Assistance, Dr Walid Mehalaine


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PHOTO: AKOWP


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