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WHO challenges African leaders on road accidents

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World Health Organisation (WHO) regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, has challenged African leaders to take measures to reduce road accidents to reduce pressure on health budgets.

BY XOLISANI NCUBE

Moeti told journalists at the just-ended WHO regional conference in Victoria Falls that road accidents were impediments to universal health access.

“While we agree and plan on a number of issues to work on as we strive to improve health provision to our people, the ministers of health agreed that road accidents, sexually transmitted diseases and the well-being and number of health workers are issues we should work on,” she said.

“We realised that we have so many of our people dying on our roads across the region. The number of disabilities outside the deaths that are caused, it’s almost an epidemic now.”

Due to poor road infrastructure and human error, the number of road accidents are increasing causing high mortalities.

The six-day workshop, chaired by Zimbabwe Health minister David Parirenyatwa, also looked at how community health workers could assist in the provision of universal health.

“There was an emphasis that while we are getting there, it is good to capacitate community health workers, who may be more affordable and who may be available to work in the communities, go to our households close to where people are living and play an important role in health provision,” Moeti said.

The meeting also discussed data management by government as key towards unlocking funding for the health sector.

Parirenyatwa, who now also chairs the WHO general assembly next after chairing the 67th regional meeting, said between now and the next two meetings next year (regional conference and general assembly), he will push for African countries, Zimbabwe included, to establish post-accident trauma centres along the major highways to cater for accident
victims.

“As the region, we have asked ourselves critical questions in dealing with the road accidents issuance, we have got ourselves facilities to deal with trauma caused by accidents?” he said.

“I really liked this discussion and the agreement that ministers of Health lead this agenda, but, of course, it is multi-sectoral. We have Health, Finance, the ministers of Transport as well as the ministers responsible for police. It was important for us to recognise that most road accidents are caused by human error and alcohol is the lead there, over 70% in some countries within the region are somehow related to alcohol abuse.”

Parirenyatwa also said STI infections were on the rise in Africa, especially among the adolescents and college students.

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