Health ministers and representatives from African countries have voiced concern over the impact of COVID-19 and stressed that the pandemic was a poignant reminder for countries to bolster health systems.

They attended the annual World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for Africa this week.

The 70th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa, the Organization’s decision-making body, which was held virtually for the first time due to COVID-19 also celebrated Africa’s historic milestone in eradicating wild poliovirus.

More than 500 participants, including ministers of health and officials from 47 member states as well as representatives from United Nations agencies, intergovernmental organizations, civil society, academia and development partners attended the meeting.

In a statement issued by the WHO African Office, African governments say they have reinforced response measures, building on the early steps such as enhanced surveillance, detection and movement restrictions taken even before the coronavirus hit the continent.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali says, “This virus has not only affected our health, but also tested our way of living, societal norms and economies at large. In Africa, we quickly felt the impact of the pandemic due to our weak health systems coupled with the highest disease burden in the world.”

Below is the full statement:

Below is the virtual 70th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa: