The conference, which brought together more than 2800 people, including health ministers, health experts, health organizations, media, civil society organizations, health activists and many people from 90 countries around the globe, was geared towards preparing Africa for future pandemics.
Rwanda’s Prime Minister, Dr. Edouard Ngirente, addressing the conference, said the Covid-19 pandemic exposed gaps in global health systems, including inadequate emergency preparedness, access to vaccines and technologies and insufficient well-trained personnel, and this stressed the need to prioritize and invest more, in national health programs.
« As we pursue recovery, it is high time Africa leveraged existing opportunities in efforts to building resilient systems. In Rwanda for example, with the disruption of global supply chains due to Covid-19, the pandemic revealed unseen opportunities. We realized that many of the products we imported such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), could actually be made in Rwanda by repurposing existing manufacturing facilities towards Covid-19 related products, » he said.
The Rwandan PM further said that there is a need to put in place health systems that not only ensure universal access to essential health services but that also provide quality health services. Adding: « It is important to keep in mind the positive correlation between the health of our citizens and economic growth, to build a better future for our continent requires establishing strong and resilient health systems across the continent. »
« This clearly demonstrated the huge untapped opportunity in our domestic manufacturing. Tapping opportunities also requires enabling a conductive research and development environment. I invite investors and innovators to build on new evidence-based solutions that I am certain will be shared during this conference. Rwanda is committed to contributing and supporting advancement of innovative public health initiatives across the continent, » he said
Also speaking at the conference, was Dr. Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, Acting Director of Africa CDC. Dr. Ouma said the conference is a platform where Africans and international experts have come together to find solutions for the public health challenges faced by the continent, and to guide implementation of those solutions to make a real and lasting change globally.
« Africa CDC is about six years old since it was officially launched on 31st January 2017. Africa CDC is an autonomous health institution of the African Union, is a key agency in delivering Africa’s vision of Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want. In this regard, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the leadership of the African Union Commission for its unwavering support of Africa CDC, » he said.
He praised Africa CDC for managing complex health emergencies and disease threats and gained valuable experience and lessons in the process. « And they have become quite good at harnessing expertise and local resources as they respond to some of the most challenging public health events on the continent, and indeed the world, has known.
« We have decided that we will turn these lessons and experiences into opportunities - opportunities to grow our capacities for prevention and response; opportunities to strengthen our health systems; opportunities to expand the involvement of our young people in our work of safeguarding Africa’s health. I am very pleased to see the early results of the actions we have taken with these opportunities. One such early result is involvement of the youth. We held a very successful and rewarding Youth Pre-Conference on 10-11 December 2022 here in Kigali, » he said.
According to him, one significant lesson learnt is that, it is time for Africa to take ownership and responsibility in shaping their present and our future and recognize the crucial importance of creating a space where ideas and insights are shared among the brightest African and international minds.
« A space where innovation can flow, a space where ideas can turn into concrete solutions for Mama Africa, and a space where we welcome ideas, from all over the world because we have chosen not to work alone. This conference is that space, so I urge all of you to participate fully. Arrive full of ideas. Offload all of them here and go back empty, ready to fill up with even more ideas in time for the next conference. Every idea counts! »
Other speakers included Dr. Patrick Ndimubanzi, Executive Secretary of the Human Resource for health Secretariat, Ministry of Health Rwanda, Noella Bigirimana, Deputy Director of Rwanda Biomedical Center, Dr. Yvan Butera, Minister of State in the Ministry of Health of Rwanda, Dr. Abere Okereke, Senior Technical Advisor, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change and Prof. Claude Mamba Muvunyi, Director General Biomedical Center Rwanda.
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