UN, AU sign health agreement


In the drive towards universal health coverage, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the African Union (AU) Commission cemented a mutual commitment to global health signing an historic agreement.

WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus and AU Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at WHO Headquarters to expand co-operation.

“The Memorandum of Understanding is an important step to formalising co-operation between WHO and the African Union and implementing the Addis Ababa Call to Action,” the WHO chief said.

“The Addis Ababa Call is a commitment from African Union leaders to increase domestic financing for health and hold themselves accountable for it.”

Following a political declaration on universal health coverage, approved in September by all UN Member States, the General Assembly adopted a global resolution to translate that commitment into reality by legislators in 140 countries.

The AU plays a major role in supporting greater cohesion among AU member States across a range of policies and programmes.

Based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), WHO’s 13th General Programme of Work 2019-2023, aims to ensure health care in low, middle- and high-income countries.

The MoU will reinvigorate, expand and deepen the UN-AU relationship in the health and development objectives of the African Union.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Ghebreyesus and Mahamat stressed the partnership will enable the necessary political support and country-level implementations to improve the health and well-being of people across the African continent.

“Universal health coverage is not a luxury only rich countries can afford”, said Ghebreyesus. “All countries can make progress with the resources they have”.

Key UN-AU collaboration specifics include providing technical expertise to the African Medicines Agency and fostering local production of medicines and strengthening collaboration between WHO and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention – with a focus on emergency preparedness to build defences against epidemics and other health emergencies.