In conformity with the AU Consultative Act for composition of the Specialized Technical Committee (STC) and following due consultative amongst member states, the Bureau of the STC on Health, Population and Drug Control also appointed Vice Chairpersons for Cameroon-Central Africa, Mauritania – North Africa, Kenya – East Africa whilst Dr. Sarian Kamara was appointed Chairperson representing Sierra Leone for the West Africa region.
“Youth, Health and Development: Overcoming the challenge towards Harnessing the Demographic Dividend” was the theme slated for the meeting.
The Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Health, Population and Drug Control is one of fourteen Specialized Technical Committee, defined as an organ of the African Union in accordance with Article 5 (1) (g) of the AU Consultative Act. The STC on Health, Population and Drug Control meets once every two years
The rationale is based on Health, Population and Nutrition and on the Health and Socio-economic consequences of illicit drugs on youth.
The rationale is looking at the Africa ‘we want’ as an Africa which is prosperous based on inclusive growth and sustainable development, on Africa whose development is people driven, and reliant on the potential offered by its people especially its women and Children. An Africa where there is a high standard of living and quality of life and wellbeing for all of its citizens, who are healthy and well nourished. The importance of ensuring good health is key to reducing youth vulnerability and to maximize capital investment.
A combination of low mortality and fertility is a critical element for harnessing the demographic dividend, whilst child mortality rates in Africa have declined, fertility rates have remained high, with a continental average of 4.7 (World Population Prospects 2015 Revision). In some Africa countries, the fertility rate stands as high as 7.6. These phenomena give rise to high youth dependency rates and manifest themselves in many other challenges as there are limited resources to adequately invest in the development of each individual.
On the Health and Socio-economic consequences of illicit drugs on youth as alluded to earlier, a major objective of AU Agenda 2063 is to unleash the full potential of African Youth and women to boost socio-economic development. It is estimated that 68 of Africa’s Population is under age 30. That Youth can be critical agents for positive socio-economic change if appropriate investments are made and their rights to education, employment are made and their rights realized, in order to unleash their power to innovate and become productive citizens. Alternatively youth could turn into an army of employed youth which may increase social risks and tension. These and many more are within the rationale of the meeting.
Other highlights include presentations and discussions on Health Population and Drugs control, Briefing on opportunities and challenges on Human Resources for health, the milestones towards the setting up of the African Medicines Agency (AMA), sustainable school feeding and nutrition initiative implications for harnessing Africa’s Demographic dividend recommended that the maternal, newborn and Child Health Task Force prepare a Biennial Maternal, Newborn, and child health status Report up to 2030 in order to ensure political support. The Committee further decided that the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Task Force ensures that Adolescent health is given more prominence in subsequent Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health status Reports.
The Experts meeting considered the 2017 Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health 2017 Report and observed the need for the Commission to enrich the Report by including the AU Commission’s ability to mobilize political support and leadership to end preventable maternal, child and newborn deaths through the AU campaign frame work to ending child marriage as good practice, highlighting the issues of conflicts and health emergencies such as Ebola, Zika and its negative impacts on maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health on the continent. Other recommendation was on Good governance and conflict prevention to mitigate the negative impact of conflict on maternal, Newborn, Child health and Adolescent health on the continent
The meeting was attended by delegates from the AU Member States: Algeria, Angola, Congo, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Comoros, Egypt, Eriteria, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, South Africa, The Sudan, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the United Republic of Guinea.