The Concerns, according to the West African Health Sector Unions Network (WAHSUN) must include the suspension of intellectual property rights on “pandemic products” to be triggered by the declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHIEC).
In a statement to mark the 35th anniversary of the West African Health Organisation (WAHO), the WAHSUN emphasised the need to “put a stop to international financial institutions offering loan facilities that constrict the fiscal policy space of governments.”
“When we look around the world, countries with stronger universal public health systems have been able to better weather the COVID-19 storm.
“We have to draw inspiration and lessons from their experiences and therefore call on the ECOWAS Member States to be on the frontline of the global discourse to shape the post-COVID-19 world,” the statement, signed by Perpetual Ofori-Ampofo, Chairperson, WAHSUN, said.
Established on 9th July 1987, the WAHO is a Specialised Institution of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) responsible for health issues.
The overarching objective of WAHO is to enable “the attainment of the highest possible standards and protection of the health of the peoples in the sub-region through the harmonisation of the policies of the Members States, pooling of resources and cooperation with one another.”
The WASHUN said it had consistently called for improved public funding of public services and delivery of quality and safe health in all ECOWAS Member States for the achievement of quality public services and the attainment of Universal Health Coverage in West Africa.
It said inadequate budgetary allocation for health by “virtually all the governments of almost all WAHO Member States” had resulted in “ill-equipped and grossly understaffed” healthcare facilities within the sub-region.
“Although there is a pressing need to scale up funding of health as a central plank of the pandemic response, no single West African country expended up to 10 per cent of its annual budget on health within the past few years despite the fact that heads of states of West Africa, as with all other parts of our great continent, committed to setting aside 15 per cent of their budgetary provision for health in the Abuja Declaration of 2001,” it said.
The WASHUN urged WAHO and its member states to rise up and come together to build a resilient health sector for the region.