Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter
Zimbabwe is ready to chair this year’s 71st session of the World Health Assembly taking place in Geneva following its election last year. The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of the World Health Organisation (WHO). In an interview in Harare yesterday just before leaving for Geneva, Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa said Zimbabwe in particular and Africa in general will utilise this opportunity to bring issues affecting the continent on the fore.
“We want Zimbabwe to stand as the best country offering primary health care services and we will definitely utilise this opportunity to advocate for more resources and recognition,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
Dr Parirenyatwa said other contentious issues affecting the African continent to be discussed include the issue of viruses being kept by some countries in their laboratories.
“We know that there are some countries such as Russia and America that are still keeping viruses like smallpox virus in their laboratories and we are saying no to this as an African continent,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
Other issues on the African agenda include discussions on public health preparedness, access to medicines and vaccines, polio eradication, pandemic influenza and HIV prevention. Dr Parirenyatwa was elected to chair WHA during the 67th session of WHO’s Regional committee meeting, which took place in Victoria Falls last year. The country is chairing on behalf of the African continent until the next World Health Assembly in 2019.
Dr Parirenyatwa will co-chair with Cameroon’s Minister of Public Health, Mr Andre Mama Fouda, who was elected first vice chairperson and Cote d’Ivoire’s Minister of Health and Public Hygiene Dr Raymonde Goudou Coffie elected second vice chairperson.
Nigeria, Madagascar, Sao Tome and Principe were also elected as rapporteurs of the high-level meeting. The WHA is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the executive board.
The assembly is an annual event.