The NEPAD Southern Africa Network for Biosciences participated at the Joint Ministerial meeting for Ministers of Health and Ministers Responsible for HIV and AIDS. The meeting was held from the 7th to 11th November 2016 at Royal Swazi, in Ezulwini, Kingdom of Swaziland. The meeting is held every year as part of commemoration of the SADC Malaria week.
The meeting followed a Public Health approach focusing on the prevention, control and management of diseases. The Meeting approved policy strategies, frameworks and strategic interventions addressing the implementation plan for the SADC Protocol on Health and the implementation of the SADC Declaration on HIV and AIDS.
In his welcoming remarks His Excellence the Prime Minister of The Kingdom of Swaziland, Dr Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini, underscored the need to address the gaps that talks to harmonising efforts that aim to improve the health sector in the Region and also maintained that the SADC region remains committed to the climate change agenda.
The Minister commended the region for the milestones achieved. The region experienced a decline in new HIV infections from 880,000 in 2010 to 763000 in 2015, a decline of 13.3%. There is now high coverage of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT), only one MS has a coverage of less than 60%. A 40% reduction has been seen in the number of children under the age of five who are stunted. There has also been a 30% reduction in low birth weight when compared with the baseline of 2006 – 2010.
Ministers noted that, despite the various milestones achieved by the region towards improving health outcomes, there is increasing mortality associated with a high burden of both communicable diseases emerging and re-emerging diseases and non-communicable diseases. Maternal mortality ratio also remains high in the region regardless of favourable maternal and child health indicators such as high Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission coverage and high number of deliveries by skilled staff.
The baby steps the region is taking towards achieving their goals in outlined in the priority areas of the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024) in terms of eradicating hunger and ensuring food and nutrition security, and preventing and controlling diseases and ensuring well-being. SANBio also applauds its member states for the progress made in addressing health challenges in the region. It is the member states’ responsibility to ensure the priorities set by their policy makers are followed.