Africa Adds Voice to World Health

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK The vision of having a unified African voice for health care has culminated in the formation of African Medical Association (AfMA). The association is a branch of the World Medical Association (WMA) that represents the African continent. The WMA is involved in discussions on health matters held at world level with the World Health Organisation (WHO) but so far, the only voice that has been missing was the African one, said Dr Estie Maritz, Executive Director of the Namibia Medical Association. Delegates from 13 national medical associations in Africa, including the Medical Association of Namibia (MAN) represented by DrÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ HagenÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ FÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¶rtschÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ (chairman) and DrÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚  MaritzÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ met in Kempton Park, Johannesburg, South Africa on July 3 and 4 to establish the Continental Medical Association to represent Africa on global health issues. According to Dr Maritz, the development follows discussions among African health leaders during the past 18 months to join forces and resources for the improvement of health care in Africa. South African Medical Association (SAMA) chairperson, DrÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ KgosiÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ Letlape, who is the current president of the World Medical Association, was elected chairperson and president of AfMA. Dr Letlape has been one of the strongest advocates for the initiative and mustered support from the WMA leadership to proceed with the launch of AfMA, said Maritz. The objective is for AfMA to ultimately represent doctors of every African country. The main benefits of belonging to AfMA include sharing resources, infrastructure, education and training. Infrastructure in other African countries is so run down that doctors are unable to attend to their associations while poverty also prevents them from participation , added Maritz. Letlape encouraged the health leaders of Africa to be resourceful as opposed to seeking resources. “The professionalisation of being victims should end. Africans should now stand up, accept our personal and collective responsibility, and start the African health renaissance, ” he said. The first AfMA assembly is scheduled to be held at Pilanesberg from October 8 – 10 this year and precedes the WMA General Assembly that will be held from October 11 – 14. The suggested theme for the AfMA Assembly is ‘Human Resources in Health’. Although there are numerous major health care issues that African leaders want to address, it was decided to focus on alcohol and substance abuse, chronic diseases, trauma and accident management, HIV/AIDS, disaster preparedness, and human resources. The other elected leaders are DrÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ KofiÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ Asare, vice-chairperson (Ghana), DrÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ MaryÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ Zulu (Zambia) and DrÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ YewondwossenÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ TadesseÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ (Ethiopia). The former WMA secretary general DrÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ DelonÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ Human is the honorary secretary general of AfMA.