Global health coverage, immunization and albinism take priority at PAP session



The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) and the World Health Organization’s regional office for Africa have given priority to Africa’s burning health issues during the Second Ordinary Session of the Parliament’s fifth legislature, advancing dialogue on the implementation of the African Union AU Declaration on Universal Access to Immunization. At least one in four people in Africa does not have access to vaccines.

As part of an agreement between PAP and the WHO, signed in February 2019 in Addis Ababa, the institutions adopted a workplan for the implementation of the AU Declaration.

Dr. Richard MIHIGO, Programme Coordinator for immunization and vaccine development at the WHO’s Africa office, said parliamentarians can play a critical role in implementing the Declaration through advocacy for increased budget for immunization and building regional capacity for the local production of vaccines.

Reporting on a workshop that took place in Tunis in March, Hon. Aurelien-Simplice Zingas KONGBELET, Chairperson of the PAP’s health committee shared Tunisia’s progress on immunization coverage as a best-practice model for implementation. Until early-2018, Tunisia had achieved 72% immunization coverage, reaching 500,000 people per year. Since 2019, 92% of children have been immunized.

Dr. Prosper TUMUSIIME, Director of Health Systems and Services at the WHO’s Africa office, said despite good examples, much remains to be done in Universal Health Coverage on the continent. He called on Parliamentarians to use their national parliaments to strengthen accountability and to lobby for domestic financing.

Member of Parliament from Bangladesh and Chairperson of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) advisory group Hon. Prof Habibe MILLAT shared progress on a resolution on Universal Health Coverage which is due for adoption at the IPU Forum in October 2019.  

The session also advanced the plight of persons living with albinism in a feedback report shared with MPs. PAP’s committee on justice and human rights is adopting a regional action plan on albinism in Africa. Only five countries have signed and committed to the implementation of the plan.

During the Session, Parliamentarians also witnessed a live session from the Democratic Republic of Congo, on the WHO’s response to the Ebola outbreak providing.