Voting Closed:

RENEWED COMMITMENT

Refugees' access to healthcare top agenda as IGAD meets

They further adopted accompanying plan of action for upscaling and improving health services for refugees

In Summary

•IGAD member states include Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.

•IGAD member states held their 13th health ministerial meeting on Friday to strategise on how to deal with challenges posed by emerging health threats 

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe addresses the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member states held on March 25, 2022
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe addresses the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member states held on March 25, 2022

Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member states have committed to ensuring refugees and cross border population have access to quality healthcare services.

This is after it emerged that refugees and cross-border mobile population still face significant challenges in accessing basic healthcare needs which undermines the health security for millions of citizens in the region.

IGAD comprises Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.

The group held its 13th health ministerial meeting on Friday to strategise on how to deal with challenges posed by emerging health threats among other concerns.

During the meeting, member states signed and adopted the ministerial declaration on Health for Refugees, Returnees, and host communities and the Cross-Border Health for Migrants.

“Our mobile population still has to be tested for Covid-19 before they depart and when they arrive at their destination in the region,” IGAD Executive Secretary Workneh Gebeyehu said.

“While this level of diligence is admirable in protecting us all from infection, it is also a vote of no confidence in each other’s health systems. We need to demonstrate that we trust each other in health matters,” Gebeyehu added.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe addresses the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member states held on March 25, 2022
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe addresses the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member states held on March 25, 2022

The member states also agreed to take collective responsibility that every refugee, returnee, other cross border population and members of the host communities have access to quality healthcare services within respective countries without discrimination.

They further adopted accompanying plan of action for up-scaling and improving health services for refugees, cross border mobile population, returnees and host communities as well as integrating refugee health programmes within the national health system.

Kenya’s Health CS Mutahi Kagwe called for synergy among member states in dealing with challenges posed by emerging health threats.

Kagwe said the Covid-19 pandemic has necessitated the need to embrace sharing of information and data across borders to contribute to improved health outcomes and strengthened disease surveillance.

“We need to be bold and think outside the box about how to develop African solutions to African problems in health, going forward,” Kagwe said in his address to the meeting.

He added: “This might be a cliché but it aptly captures our greatest lesson from the pandemic.  We know that the disruption of global supply chain led to the isolation of many countries, especially those in the global south.”

He said there was a need to stimulate conversations across the region and leverage on the respective comparative advantages to achieve greater efficiencies to better coordinate response to future pandemics, as well as other health emergencies and threats.

According to IGAD chair Ambassador Magdi Ahmed, there is need to strengthen co-operation among member states in an effort to adequately prepare the region from health, food security and other emerging challenges.

This includes cushioning the region from shocks resulting from unexpected occurrences such as what is happening between Ukraine and Russia.

Ahmed said such episodes will have negative implications on the region and could derail ongoing efforts for a peaceful and integrated IGAD. 

“We now know, perhaps better than any time in the past that countries are more connected than ever before.  A health challenge in one Country can very easily manifest in another and therefore we cannot work in isolation.”

Members also committed to mobilize and maintain political will with particular focus on refugees, returnees and host communities especially at cross border areas.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe during the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member states held on March 25, 2022
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe during the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member states held on March 25, 2022

This, they said will be possible if done in partnership with international, multilateral, bilateral agencies and institutions such as EU, WB, AfDB, the Global Fund, Africa CDC and UN agencies to address the cross border and refugee health challenges in line with national policies and guideline.

They also committed to mobilizing additional domestic resources to support availability and access to quality equitable health services for cross border and mobile population and particularly refugees, returnees and host communities.

The IGAD regional policies and strategies for the various regional health Initiatives are meant to complement the country level health agendas of member states.

IGAD was founded in 1986 to assist and complement the efforts of the member states to achieve, through increased cooperation; food security and environmental protection, peace and security, and economic cooperation and integration in the region.

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