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Sunday, 7 February 2016

#WACP, West Africa College of Physicians Releases Communique

PREAMBLE : The 38/39th Annual General and Scientific Meeting of the West African College of Physicians was held at the Sheraton Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria from 2th to 6th November 2015.
The Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry for Health Mr Linus Awute mni declared the meeting open on Monday, the 2nd of November, 2015.
The Theme of the Conference was “Physicians, Politics & Policies of Healthcare in the West African sub region: The Inextricable Web” and the subthemes were:
– The Growing Burden of Non-Communicable Disease in West Africa: Time for Action’
– Containing the Scourge of Ebola/Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers in West Africa’
Over 950 delegates and guests from 12 countries, The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, the Republic of Benin, Cote D’Ivoire, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, South Africa, USA, and UK attended the meeting. Presidents of sister West African Colleges and the National Post Graduate Medical College of Nigeria (NPMCN) also attended. There were also delegates from the Royal College of Physicians London and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

The academic activities of the meeting included the following: 
The Mabayoje College Lecture, titled “One step forward, two or three steps backward: The Laboratory and healthcare concerns in West Africa” by Dr. Femi Ogunbiyi on behalf of the Faculty of Laboratory Medicine.
The Annual College Symposium on “Economy, Politics and Mental health in the West African sub-region.” by the Faculty of Psychiatry.
A symposium on ‘The Growing Burden of Non-Communicable Diseases in West Africa’
A symposium on “Combating the Scourge of Ebola/Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers in West Africa”
Special lectures were presented by delegates from the Royal Colleges on ‘Snake bite in West Africa,’ ‘Liver Cancer in West Africa,’ ‘Subdural haemorrhage in infants’ and ‘Intestinal Enteropathy.’
There were four scientific sessions during which papers on health issues relevant to the sub-region were presented.
Over 200 newly qualified Fellows in the medical specialties of Community Health, Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Laboratory Medicine, Paediatrics and Psychiatry were admitted into the College.
Over 250 newly qualified specialists in various Faculties were admitted into the Membership of the College.
Two distinguished scholars – Prof David Allen Warrell and Prof Simon David
Taylor-Robinson from the Royal College of Physicians were admitted into the prestigious honorary Fellowship of the College.

The concerted efforts made by the governments and peoples of West Africa, and global partners in containing the recent Ebola epidemic in the Sub-region are commendable.
The Health Systems in our Sub-region are currently too weak and ill-prepared for emerging infectious disease epidemics
Despite the present containment of the Ebola epidemic, the high case fatality rate, Post-Ebola complications and possibility of re-emergence remain a challenge in the Sub-region
Laboratory practice and healthcare delivery in the Sub-region are negatively impacted by poor funding, conflicting Legislations and Policies resulting in inter-professional disputes.
Non communicable diseases in Africa including Cardiovascular and Respiratory disorders, Cancers, Diabetes Mellitus, Haemoglobinopathies and Road Traffic accidents remain a growing cause of morbidity and mortality in the Sub-region and exert huge economic impact.
There are issues of malnutrition and inappropriate nutrition and vitamin/trace element deficiencies affecting the function of our immune system
The political will to fight tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity which are factors driving non-communicable diseases in the sub-region is weak.
Resource allocation to mental health services is inadequate to meet the mental health needs of the people of the Sub-region. The politico-economic cost of stigma in mental health patients and professionals is high
Snake bite is a cause of significant morbidity and mortality in some parts of the West African Sub-region, and is made worse by lack of suitable antivenom
Hepatitis B virus infection and its sequelae currently kills more people than HIV/AIDS.

The Governments and peoples of West Africa should be more committed to efforts aimed at preventing conflicts and building strong, resilient, and responsive health systems in the Sub-region.

Recommendations to Governments
Governments need to strengthen leadership, enhance research into prevention and treatment, and institute sustainable and robust early warning systems and emergency preparedness networks for viral haemorrhagic fevers.
The countries of the sub- region should ensure adequate surveillance and promote infection control strategies at all levels in order to prevent the re-emergence of infectious disease epidemics, and at the same time improve on resource mobilization efforts through multi-partner funds.
Governments in the sub-region should continue to promote regional integration in order to achieve health security.
The Governments should review existing health legislations and policies to ensure industrial harmony and efficiency among all cadre of health workers.
Governments need to strengthen health systems and increase political will in reducing the burden of NCDs by implementing multidisciplinary strategies for their prevention, treatment and control, through appropriate legislation and health education.
Governments should channel more resources into improving adult and child mental health and promulgate policies and legislation for the integration of mental health facilities into primary health care in our subregion
Optimizing immunocompetence through adequate nutrition will help to curb the morbidity and mortality due to infectious diseases.
The Governments should establish facilities for local production of effective and affordable regionally relevant anti-snake venom and continue to support health education to reduce the morbidity and mortality of snake bite in the sub-region.

That the West African College of Physicians reaffirms its commitment to:
The promotion of the health of the people of the entire West African sub region through evidence-based human capital development in the health sector.
Collaborate with governments and other stakeholders to prevent the re-emergence of epidemics of Ebola and other infectious diseases by convening an extra ordinary conference to review lessons learnt and define the way forward.
Assist the governments of the sub-region in reducing the growing burden of Non communicable diseases though appropriate preventive strategies.
Provide expert advice to the governments of the sub-region for the building of robust, resilient and responsive health systems.