Premier Ngirente delivered the remarks as he officiated the opening of the second International Public Health Conference in Africa (CPHIA2022) at Kigali Convention Center.
The conference running from 13th to 15th December 2022, will bring together researchers, policy makers and stakeholders from the health sector.
Rwanda is hosting the second edition following the first one held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions.
This year’s conference held in-person will serve as a platform for discussions on lessons learnt from the pandemic and how to build a resilient health system in Africa.
As he officiated the opening ceremony, Dr. Ngirente said a lot have been achieved in the health sector but stressed the need for countries to take appropriate actions to protect and care for the health of citizens.
He highlighted that resilient health practices must have systems able to detect and respond effectively to outbreaks.
Premier Ngirente said that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed gaps in global health systems including inadequate emergency preparedness, access to vaccine and technologies, and insufficient well-trained personnel of the health sector.
“This stressed the need to prioritize and invest more in national health programs,” he said.
Secondly, Dr. Ngirente stressed the need to put in place health systems that not only ensure universal, essential access to health services but also that provide quality health services.
“It is important to keep in mind the positive correlation between the health of our citizens and economic growth. To build a better future for our continent requires establishing strong and resilient health systems across the continent. Third, as we pursue recovery, it is high time Africa leverages existing opportunities in efforts to building resilient systems,” he said.
He pointed out an example of the COVID-19 pandemic which disrupted the global supply chain, prompting Rwanda to start manufacturing own personal protective equipment and related products.
“This clearly demonstrated the huge untapped opportunity in our domestic manufacturing. Tapping opportunities also requires enabling a conducive research and development environment. I invite researchers and innovators to build on a new evidence-based solutions that I am certain will be shared during this conference,” noted Dr. Ngirente.
He also reiterated Rwanda’s commitment to contribute and support the advancement of innovative public health initiatives across the continent.
Dr. Ahmed Ogwell, the Acting Director at the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) has said that it is the first time Africa hosts such a conference in-person noting that it is taking place in the right place and time.
He stressed the need to develop partnerships based on African priorities.
“It is time for a new way of doing things on the African continent so that we can achieve our health security agenda. Our vision of that different way of doing things is a new public health order, a vision that takes Africa from always following others to […] a continent that develops its own internal capacity, establishes own priorities, seeks indigenous solutions and uses domestic resource’s to initiate action,” he said.
As he delivered remarks virtually, the Director General of World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for partnerships and preparedness to strengthen response to future pandemics and epidemics.