Run by and for the people of Africa in Africa, AHAIC 2023 is designed to tackle complex issues in a sustainable and inclusive manner and promises to be jampacked with high level plenaries, thought-provoking parallel sessions, exciting workshops and much, much more!

Here’s a snapshot of what you can expect at the plenaries:

Plenary 1: One Africa, One Economy for Health: A Coming Together of Nations

Africa has traditionally been the last to receive access to diagnostics, therapeutics, or vaccines. Insufficient investments in the pharmaceutical industry over the years have left African countries dependent on the multilateral system, which hasn’t always delivered equitably. If the past three years have taught us anything, Africa must become self-reliant and shape its own unique health destiny. One such way is by fostering regional integration to consolidate African countries and operate as a ‘One Africa’ economy with a much larger market size and greater economic power. Some such measures could include setting up common regulatory procedures across countries for clinical trials, actively sharing surveillance data and co-owning emergency response human resources during disease outbreaks. If African countries come together and commit to such a unified approach, we can overturn the fragmented efforts that have long stood in the way of holistic progress on the continent and globally. This session will highlight the need to build meaningful partnerships and operationalize coordinated programs that will put in place strong, efficient, and thriving health systems - the backbone of a strong continent.

Plenary 2: Global Solidarity for Worldwide Health Security: Supporting Health Investments Amidst Economic Crises

The COVID-19 crisis morphed into a full-blown economic and financial crisis during the last few years. While countries recognized the need to be better prepared for the next pandemic, recent challenges - climate change, food and energy prices - have put a strain on African economies and left them exposed to a debt crisis. At the recent UNGA dialogues, heads of state of several African countries called on the global north to provide debt relief and financial stimulus packages to help African countries get back on track to achieving their SDG goals. Following through on these conversations, we recognize that if we are to make meaningful progress on Africa’s health goals, it is imperative that we discuss financing for health within the prevailing socio-economic environment and in relation to the challenges of the next decade. This session will unpack what global solidarity in health financing should look like within the context of prevailing and future challenges, and how the narrative on prioritising health investments must be framed to respond to the pressures facing leaders of countries and multilateral institutions.

Plenary 3: Climate Action in Africa: A Healthier Planet for Healthier Populations

Across the world, countries are witnessing the sweeping impact on the health and well-being of populations being caused by climate change. African nations remain particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change despite their negligible contribution to the crisis. However, the issue has not been fully embodied in discussions on health security and health system planning and there has been little action to address the effects that climate change has had on the health of populations in Africa. To prepare for the challenges of the coming decade, it is crucial for African countries to outline and localize the impact of climate change on the health of the African continent and follow through on COP27 resolutions. This session will highlight ways of putting climate change on the health agenda and preparing African countries for the health needs of tomorrow.

Plenary 4: Protecting the Health Workforce of Tomorrow: Diplomacy, Partnerships and Investments

While the entire world suffered through the COVID-19 pandemic, indisputably healthcare workers were hit the hardest. Barely out of the pandemic, governments are under pressure to manage climate change, conflict, food insecurity - all of which are overstretching our health systems, exacerbating the shortage of medical personnel, and exposing healthcare workers to very real physical dangers. For instance, around 40 per cent of un- and under-vaccinated children live in countries that are either partially or entirely affected by conflict – which requires healthcare workers to be deployed increasingly in difficult terrains. With the demands on health care workers (HCWs) expected to intensify over the next decade, countries must anticipate their evolving needs, replace siloed approaches with cross-sectoral partnerships, and find ways to protect, train, equip and retain health workers. This session will discuss the unexplored investments that countries and multilaterals need to make in HCWs, the cross-sectoral partnerships that will need to be forged and the diplomacy needed to protect health care workers.

Plenary 5: The Power of Communities: Creating Change through Human Centred Design

“Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say ‘we have done this ourselves’.”– Lao Tzu.

Good health is a function of access to health care systems as well as the choices made by individuals. The role of communities and individuals in addressing the social determinants of health is increasingly being recognised as a crucial lever in having healthy people. For instance, diabetes, one of the growing health concerns on the continent, isn’t curable but requires individuals to adopt healthy habits such as exercising and diet control. Similarly, several diseases such as tuberculosis require high nutritional intake however doctors don’t dish out food prescriptions. Mental health, sexual health and reproductive health – all of these are vastly influenced by social and cultural norms, which communities can help change. Unfortunately, the health care system in countries is restricted to providing medical services that are geared toward curing and managing health conditions and lack the capacity and design to prevent health conditions or encourage adoption of healthy behaviours. This session will discuss innovative ways in which communities can take on non-medical roles that can significantly impact the health quotient of populations. Unfortunately, the health care system in countries is restricted to providing medical services that are geared toward curing and managing health conditions and lack the capacity and design to prevent health conditions or encourage adoption of healthy behaviours. This session will discuss innovative ways in which communities can take on non-medical roles that can significantly impact the health quotient of populations.

Plenary 6: SRHR for Everyone: Unpacking the Politics of Choice, Culture & Conservatism to Enhance Health Equity

In a world where backsliding on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) is threatening our collective health and wellbeing, bold and honest conversations can go a long way in protecting the health, safety and livelihoods of women and gender minorities. While several SRHR-forward dialogues have taken place at global policy forums, in Africa, these conversations continue to be shrouded in stigma and silence. The barriers that women and minorities face in accessing their health rights are not always medical in nature, but are often influenced by social, cultural, economic and political determinants that require concerted collaboration across sectors in Africa if they are to be addressed. In this session, panellists will candidly discuss the struggles faced by women and gender minorities, scrutinize social, economic, and cultural barriers driving the suppression of health rights, address issue areas in health that continue to be neglected, and highlight contextually relevant approaches that could be replicated to protect SRHR across Africa.

Parallel Session: No Longer an Outlier – Tapping into Africa’s Health Innovation Potential to Achieve Global Health Goals

All over the continent homegrown innovations are rapidly changing the landscape of healthcare, narrowing access and inequity gaps, and showcasing Africa’s massive potential as a leader in health innovation – not just an end user. Where Africa has in the past looked at innovation in health from the outside-in, in recent years, African health-tech has recorded impressive growth. From smart gloves capable of translating sign language into speech to a burgeoning drug research, discovery and development space, the opportunities offered by health innovation are endless. But to maintain the upward trajectory and attract investment, African governments must be more intentional about creating an ecosystem supportive of innovation, which nurtures and retains talent, and collaborates with partners to position the continent as an innovation powerhouse. In tandem, researchers and innovators need to focus on developing solutions that are affordable, scalable, and responsive to the needs of the communities they intend to serve. This session will bring together scientists, innovators and funders to celebrate the continent’s progress and map a way forward for the next chapter, where Africa will no longer look at innovation from the outside-in but will make significant contributions to improving global health through innovation.

Parallel Session: The Politics and Policies of Climate Change: An Equitable Approach to Safeguarding People and Planet

Climate change disproportionately affects populations in the Global South, despite their lower contribution to the root causes of this global crisis. As prevention and adaptation efforts progress, the discourse on climate change and public health is still nascent and hasn’t been fully understood or embodied into health security and health systems planning discussions. To prepare for the challenges of the coming decade, it is crucial for African countries to outline and localize the impact of climate change on the health of the African continent and follow through on their COP26 and COP27 resolutions. This session will bring together climate, health, and youth activists to promote, facilitate and embed climate justice into health policy and action to ensure the long-term sustainability and effectiveness of solutions.

Parallel Session: Saving Planet Earth: Engaging Africa’s Youth to Lead Climate Action

Climate-related health emergencies are on the rise in Africa, with more than half the health events in the African region linked to climate change for the last 20 years. This is further deepening health crises on a continent that is neither prepared nor equipped to handle widespread biodiversity loss, flooding, water insecurity, drought, reduced crop productivity and higher risk of disease outbreaks including tuberculosis, malaria, cholera, and cardiovascular and diarrhoeal diseases - all of which are expected to get worse as weather conditions become more extreme. To prevent the impending battle for survival that will be exacerbated by climate-driven social, economic and health inequalities, large-scale collaboration steered by bold, inclusive leadership is needed. At the centre of this must be an empowered movement of African youth, who stand to bear the brunt of lukewarm climate action. Join us for an energetic discussion on the role of youth in changing the trajectory of Africa’s health and development in an increasingly hotter world. During this session we will seek to draw lessons from today’s lived experiences to avert future catastrophes. We will also explore what climate change adaptation and mitigation could look like for Africa, and how this could influence the global response to the climate crisis.

Parallel Session: Saving Planet Earth: Engaging Africa’s Youth to Lead Climate Action

Climate-related health emergencies are on the rise in Africa, with more than half the health events in the African region linked to climate change for the last 20 years. This is further deepening health crises on a continent that is neither prepared nor equipped to handle widespread biodiversity loss, flooding, water insecurity, drought, reduced crop productivity and higher risk of disease outbreaks including tuberculosis, malaria, cholera, and cardiovascular and diarrhoeal diseases - all of which are expected to get worse as weather conditions become more extreme. To prevent the impending battle for survival that will be exacerbated by climate-driven social, economic and health inequalities, large-scale collaboration steered by bold, inclusive leadership is needed. At the centre of this must be an empowered movement of African youth, who stand to bear the brunt of lukewarm climate action. Join us for an energetic discussion on the role of youth in changing the trajectory of Africa’s health and development in an increasingly hotter world. During this session we will seek to draw lessons from today’s lived experiences to avert future catastrophes. We will also explore what climate change adaptation and mitigation could look like for Africa, and how this could influence the global response to the climate crisis.

Parallel Session: 6.1 million Heroes Needed: Bridging Africa’s Shortage of Health Workers

Primary Health Care is the first point of contact that people have with the health care system. And the stability of this system is anchored in our health workers, who are often unsupported, undervalued, and underpaid. The inability to meet the basic needs of our health workers has put Africa at risk of reaching a 6.1 million shortfall of health workers by 2030. A lack of adequate training, staffing and pay, combined with the negative effects of climate change, conflict and disease outbreaks risk health workers leaving the workforce. This session will bring together health workers, government representatives, thought leaders and activists to discuss ways to better recruit and retain talent on the continent.

Full AHAIC 2023 conference agenda coming soon.

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