2018 was a good year, but challenges remain: Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, looks back on 2018, the year that marked the 70th anniversary of the World Health Organisation, and what the Regional Office for Africa, member states, and partners have achieved together in the past two years, as well as what still needs to done for more people in Africa to enjoy better health and well-being.

Author:Moeti, Matshidiso
Position:Special Report: HEALTH - Essay

As we begin a new year, let's take a look back on 2018 to allow its lessons to inform our future in public health. We can build on our achievements to realise the bold global triple billion targets, where WHO aims to ensure that by 2023 one billion more people benefit from universal health coverage, one billion more people have better protection from health emergencies, and one billion more people enjoy better health and well-being.

This new general programme of work is shifting the way we measure results, with greater emphasis being placed on the contribution of the WHO African Region (WHO/ AFRO) to health outcomes and impact. Our work will be rearranged into three pillars to match the triple billion targets: Universal Health Coverage, Health Emergencies, and Health Promotion, with results being driven at the country level. I am very excited about these changes, which promise unsurpassed public health improvements.

Last year was a significant year for public health as we celebrated 70 years of the WHO's existence and the 40th anniversary of the Alma Ata Declaration that called for urgent and effective national and international action to develop and implement primary health care throughout the world, and particularly in developing countries.

As we reflect on the past year, I would like to express my gratitude to all our partners and member states for their commitment to improving the health of the people in the African Region. Despite challenges, we continued to register significant results through your hard work and support.

Managing change Our Transformation Agenda (TA) is making a difference in the lives of people across Africa. Launched in 2015, the TA aims to transform WHO/ AFRO into an organisation that is proactive, transparent and delivers results. In 2018, the impact of this bold and ambitious reform was clear. Transformation at the country level is progressing well. Country support plans are being developed through consultation and bottom-up planning with governments and partners.

In April 2018, I launched Phase Two of the Transformation Agenda, putting people at the centre or change. A Change Management Team is guiding over 150 volunteer change agents across levels and disciplines in the regional and country offices, who are promoting behaviour change to produce results.

Our work in the area of emergency preparedness continued to improve during 2018. In line with the International Health Regulations requirements, 10 member...

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