Communiqué of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission on the working visit to Geneva and the signing of an MoU with WHO

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18 November 2019, Addis Ababa: The Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat concluded a two-day working visit to Geneva, Switzerland today. During the visit, he signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhenom Ghebreyesus.

Accompanied by the AU Commissioner for Social Affairs HE Amira Elfadil, Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the AU-AfricaCDC, and the AU Permanent Representative to Geneva Ambassador Ajay Kumar Bramdeo, the Chairperson arrived in Geneva on the 17 November, where he held a meeting with the African Group of Ambassadors accredited to Switzerland and international organisations based in Geneva. He commended the Group of African ambassadors for their leadership and solidarity in defending African positions at international organisations based in Geneva. He also encouraged them to continue speaking with one voice to advance continental priorities . He then briefed the ambassadors on the continuing AU institutional and financial reforms, and exchanged views with the ambassadors on issues of continental interest.

During the meeting, the Commissioner for Social Affairs HE Amira Elfadil and the Director-General of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhenom Ghebreyesus also briefed the ambassadors on the partnership between the African Union Commission and the World Health Organization and other international organisations. The Ambassadors also briefed the AU leadership officials on the progress of negotiations regarding African positions at various international organisations based in Geneva.

During his visit to the World Health Organization, the Chairperson held discussions with Dr Tedros, WHO Deputy Director-General Dr Zsuzsanna Jakob, WHO Assistant Director-General, Emergency Response Dr Ibrahima Soce Fall.

The officials signed a Memorandum of Understanding to 1)further accelerate WHO support towards the establishment of the African Medicines Agency, 2) collaboration between the AU AfricaCDC, the AU specialised technical agency mandated with supporting Member States strengthen their public health systems, including Preparedness and Response for disease outbreaks, and 3) to jointly support the implementation of the Addis Ababa Call To Action regarding Universal Health Coverage.

The Chairperson commended WHO through Dr Tedros and his teams, including the Africa Regional Office, for their commitment to supporting African priorities and reiterated that public health is a key component of Africa’s development Agenda 2063. He added that the new MOU would be as an exciting addition to the development framework agreement signed between the African Union and the United Nations family, to further complement the AU UN partnership to achieve the global 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063.

The Chairperson further noted that the continental agenda as articulated by the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA), will have corresponding multiplier effect on public health in terms of access and the free movement of goods, including medicines, and achieving Universal Health Coverage.

Regarding the continuing Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Chairperson commended Dr Tedros’ personal leadership and and that of his Teams for their sustained efforts and presence together with partners including AfricaCDC, to control and arrest human to human transmission of the Ebola virus, as the encouraging downturn of new infection numbers show. He also noted that the the African Union Commission will convene a pledging conference with Member States and the African Private Sector on 2 December 2019 at the AU headquarters in Addis Abeba to mobilise funds to support DRC in its Ebola Response and Preparedness activities.