Aug. 24, 2020

African Health Ministers to meet virtually on critical health issues

African Health Ministers to meet virtually on critical health issues

Seventieth session of WHO Regional Committee for Africa

Brazzaville, 24 August 2020 – Health Ministers and representatives from African countries will meet virtually for the Seventieth session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for Africa. The Regional Committee is the WHO decision-making body in the region, convening once a year to discuss and endorse policies, activities and financial plans to improve people’s health. Due to COVID-19, this annual meeting is being held online for the first time with an abridged agenda. Among the key issues to be discussed are the COVID-19 pandemic and the certification of Africa as free of wild poliovirus.

WHAT: Virtual Seventieth session of WHO Regional Committee for Africa

WHEN: 25 August 2020 starting at 08:30 GMT


WHO: The more than 500 participants include WHO Director-General Tedros Gebreyesus; WHO Regional Director for Africa: Dr Matshidiso Moeti, Ministers of Health and officials from 47 Member States, as well as representatives from United Nations agencies, intergovernmental organizations, civil society, academia and other development partners.


25 August 11:30 -14:30 GMT: Special event on the COVID-19 response in the WHO African Region

A little more than six months since the first COVID-19 cases in Africa, the continent has recorded more than 1.1 million cases. Early action by countries helped to slow down the spread of the virus. Although the contintent has not experienced the exponential rise in cases seen in other parts of the world, the pandemic has highlighted weaknesses in health systems in the region, including infrastructure, inadequate staffing and access to medical supplies and equipment. This session will provide a comprehensive overview of the COVID-19 pandemic situation in the African Region and discuss ways of building resilient health systems.


H.E Abiy Ahmed Ali, Prime Minister of Ethiopia
H.E Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, Prime Minister of Mauritius
Dr Pierre Somse, Hon Minister of Health, Central African Republic
Ms Jacqueline Lydia Mikolo, Hon Minister of Health & Population, Republic of the Congo
Mr Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr, Hon. Minister of Health, Senegal
Dr Zweli Mkhize, Hon Minister of Health, South Africa
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa
Professor Helen Rees, Executive Director, Wits Reproductive Health & HIV Institute
Dr Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, Deputy Director, Africa CDC
Professor Faustina Oware-Gyekye, President, West African College of Nursing
Moderator: Ms Julie Gichuru.

25 August 15:00–17:00 GMT: Celebrating the certification of wild poliovirus eradication in the African Region.

The independent Africa Regional Certification Commission (ARCC) for Polio Eradication will officially certify the WHO African Region as free of wild poliovirus. The WHO African Region recorded its last case of wild poliovirus in August 2016. Two decades earlier, African leaders committed to eradicating polio from the continent. Thanks to the relentless efforts by governments, donors, frontline health workers and communities up to 1.8 million children have been saved from the crippling life-long paralysis.

Speakers in speaking order:

Professor Rose Leke, Chairperson, Africa Regional Certification Commission
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa
Dr Tedros Gebreyesus, WHO Director-General
H.E Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria
Mr Holger Knaack, President, Rotary International
Dr Tunji Funsho, Chairman, Nigeria National PolioPlus Committee
Ms Henrietta Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF
Hon Alex Azar, United States Secretary of Health and Human Services
Dr Robert Redfield, Director, United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Dr Christopher Elias, President of the Global Development Division, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Dr Seth Berkley, CEO, GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance
Mr Aliko Dangote, Dangote Foundation
Mr Bill Gates, Co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Senator Harold K Kipchumba, Polio Survivor
Chair: Hon Jacqueline Lydia Mikolo, Minister of Health, Republic of the Congo