Published: Thursday, 08 April 2021

PAP consults with partners on response to HIV, TB and Malaria amid COVID-19

The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) Permanent Committee on Health, Labour and Social Affairs has convened a briefing session with various partners including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the Global Fund and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The virtual session aimed at reviewing the existing partners’ collaboration with the PAP through the Permanent Committee. The meeting also sought to reassess responses to HIV, Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. These consultations formed part of the ongoing virtual Sitting of the Permanent Committees of the fifth Parliament of the PAP.

Hon. Toussaint MANGA, Acting Chairperson of the Committee on Health expressed gratitude to partners for accompanying the PAP in its efforts to deliver on its mandate to facilitate the effective implementation of the policies and objectives of the African Union (AU). He called for a review of the existing partnerships to align areas of collaboration with the current context.

“As a Committee, we are tasked with guiding the continental Parliament in the promotion of laws and policies aimed at improving the lives and well-being of our citizens. We count on the support of our different partners to deliver on this mission.  COVID-19 is still a crisis in the world and around the continent. This demands that we refocus and sharpen our cooperation to cater for this aspect, especially as AU Member States struggle to roll out vaccines for all the citizens,” said Hon. Manga.

As part of a Memorandum of Agreement (MoU) between the two organisations, there has been active engagement between the WHO and the PAP over the last two years with collaboration in various areas including Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), Immunization, COVID-19, TB, status of maternal mortality in Africa, among others.

“As we review our cooperation with the PAP, priority should be given to the COVID-19 response including vaccine roll out and establishment of the Africa Medicines Agency (AMA). In this regard, harmonization of actions across the PAP, African Union Commission (AUC), Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and Regional Economic Communities (RECs), is critical.  This session also presents an ideal opportunity to look into strengthening collaboration between WHO and National Parliaments as intended by the framework of cooperation with the PAP,” said Mr. Mayur MANDALIA, Technical Officer: WHO Office to the AU and UNECA.

Dr Christian MOUALA, Senior Advisor at UNAIDS called for a mapping of best practices of National Parliaments on strengthening HIV, TB and Malaria responses, including in the COVID-19 context. He reminded the virtual session that the elimination of diseases of higher burden, which now includes COVID-19, in African countries is a prerequisite for the long-term sustainability of health programmes and moving towards achieving health-related targets of Agenda 2063 and 2030 SDGs, and Universal Health Coverage.

“African parliamentarians have taken encouraging actions that need to be documented in a form of mapping exercise. This mapping aims at listing and documenting actions and initiatives that national Parliamentarians have taken to increase access to HIV, TB and Malaria treatment and services including during COVID-19. This will provide illustrations of good practices by legislatures and individual Parliamentarians. This exercise should constitute a cornerstone of the next phase of our relationship with the PAP,” said Dr. Mouala.

Mr. Scott BOULE, Senior Specialist: Parliamentary Affairs at the Global Fund briefed African Parliamentarians on how the Global Fund has supported countries’ COVID-19 response. He also called for increased domestic investment in health in Africa as part of the long-term goal to strengthen health systems. The Global Fund remains the world’s largest multilateral provider of grants for strengthening systems for health.

“The Global Fund responded immediately to the COVID-19 pandemic by awarding US$ 988 million to 106 countries and 14 multi-country programs to support their responses to COVID-19. In order to keep progressing against the 3 diseases as a new grant cycle begins, Global Fund must keep focus on mitigating COVID-19’s impact on AIDS, TB and malaria. Support from our partners including the PAP is critical if we are to remain on track to accomplish our mission of ending these epidemics,” said Mr. Boule.

The ILO welcomed the existing working relationship with PAP, which has set the stage for consultations on a formalized framework of cooperation. Both parties have identified key areas of collaboration which include Child Labour, Forced labour, International Labour standard (specifically convention C 190 & R 206) and ILO support to the Gender parity model law in Africa.

Mr. Redha AMEUR, Regional Specialist, HIV & AIDS at ILO said: “The next step shall be the elaboration of an action plan as well as a consolidated work plan to form the basis to develop an ILO technical assistance programme. The PAP and ILO will therefore joint effort to mobilize resources to achieve set targets.”