The Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has resolved to adopt a more aggressive and proactive approach toward tackling health issues in the West African sub-region especially as they relate to emerging epidemics and pandemics such as the A/H1N1 flu and HIV/AIDS.
A release issued after a meeting of the parliament's Joint Committee on Gender, Employment, Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Social Services in Enugu at the weekend said the body would among other things, push for answers from experts on the emerging health issues in the region, the Nation newspaper reported on Sunday.
The meeting, the release said, also tackled issues relating to health development, access to quality but affordable health services as well as health financing on programs designed to build the capacity of the parliamentarians to pass legislations that will enhance the health situations of member states.
The meeting adopted a regional policy on free medical care for victims of identified reproductive health maladies particularly those resulting from cultural/social practices such as vaginal fistula.
It also resolved to seek an effective solution to the issue of exodus of medical personnel from the region to other parts of the world, a situation, they said, is causing further deterioration in the health condition of people in the subcontinent.
"The World Health Organization estimated that Africa bears 24 percent of health burden and the same Africa only has 3 percent of medical staff in its territory," the release said.
"How are we going to treat our patients if all the medical doctors that we are training with our meager resources are crossing to western countries in search of a better life that they could not find at home? We need to put an end to this", the release said.
It further stated that members of parliament of ECOWAS community owed a moral duty to assist their respective governments to help manage certain epidemics and also compel them to recognise the danger they pose to the region once they emerge in their territories since diseases know no boundaries.
(Xinhua News Agency July 20, 2009)