A continent-wide and dedicated women’s health initiative has been launched to advocate for and implement solutions to improve healthcare for women in Africa.
The Coalition for Women’s Health In Africa (CoWHA) is the first initiative emanating from a conference held in February, in Kenya, where private healthcare firms, organisations and governments met to interrogate and carve out a novel approach to better healthcare systems on the continent.
COWHA is a joint initiative by principal founding members, Organon, (a women’s healthcare focused pharmaceutical company) the African Health Business consultancy (AHB), Hologic and BD, as founding members.
Managing director of Organon South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, Dr Abofele Khoele said: “Gender equity in access to health, and in other parameters of society is an ideal for which Organon has laboured since its inception just over a year ago, and this is illustrated in its vision in creating a better and healthier every day for every woman. This vision is at the core of the organsations mandate, it is entrenched within the DNA of the company, and thus Organon is pleased to have found shared commonality with the African Health Business, Hologic and all the key stakeholders present at the launch.”
Khoele noted that knowledge and deep research lie at the heart of COWHA. So too does dialogue and policy development while creating overall awareness and a universal knowledge base for the public. “COWHA will focus on the three strategic pillars namely Knowledge and Research, Policy and Dialogue and lastly Action, all of which are mission critical to achieving the stated objective of advancing women’s health. The first pillar of knowledge and research aims to directly tackle the big challenge of the gender data gap, as well as the global north-south divide in data. Local research to drive local solutions is incredibly important in ensuring appropriateness and relevance to our African setting. The second pillar talks to activities that lay the foundation for coherent policy frameworks that will allow all of Africa to rise together, leaving no woman behind. The final pillar aims to translate intent into material outcomes by leveraging synergies, resources, consolidating efforts of governments and the private sector to have continent-wide impact.
In closing Khoele emphasised that the health stakeholders need to continue what they have been doing, but with more determination and structure. “We must continue with health systems strengthening, with programs of early detection, diagnosis, and treatment and with initiatives that provide access to lifesaving and life-changing devices and medicines.”
Other notable speakers who attended the launch included the Her Excellency Dr Ergogie Tesfaye Minister of Women and Social Affairs in Ethiopia, the minister officially launched the coalition and shared her resounding support for COWHA. In her address she highlighted the many disparities’ that women faced and how continued and determined action by the governments, private sector and the public at large is key to the success of attaining better healthcare and services for women.
Guests also got the opportunity to contribute to the mandate of COWHA by drafting on the mission board their vision for women’s health in Africa, these comments demonstrated that the success that COWHA aims to attain in its goals can only be achieved through collaboration.