UN, African Union make significant joint commitment to global health

© UNICEF/Gonzalez Far At her Wau hospital office in South Sudan, HIV health counselor Helen Pio runs the Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission programme.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


In the drive towards universal health coverage, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the African Union (AU) Commission cemented their mutual commitment to global health by signing on Monday an historic agreement.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and AU Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at WHO Headquarters to expand their relationship and cooperation in this arena.

“The Memorandum of Understanding we have signed today is an important step towards formalizing the cooperation between WHO and the African Union and to implementing the Addis Ababa Call to Action,” said the WHO chief.

“The Addis Ababa Call to Action is a powerful commitment from African Union leaders to increase domestic financing for health, and to hold themselves accountable for that commitment”, he added.

Following a political declaration on universal health coverage, which was approved in September by all UN Member States, the General Assembly adopted a global resolution to translate that commitment into reality by legislators in 140 countries.

The AU plays a crucial role in supporting greater cohesion among AU member States across a range of policies and programmes.

Based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), WHO’s 13th General Programme of Work (GPW), 2019-2023, aims to help ensure health care in low, middle- and high-income countries.

The MoU will reinvigorate, expand and deepen the UN-AU relationship towards achieving the GPW along with the health and development objectives of the African Union.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Misters Tedros and Mahamat stressed that the deepened partnership will help enable the necessary political support and country-level implementations to improve the health and well-being of people across the African continent.

“Universal health coverage is not a luxury only rich countries can afford”, said Mr. Ghebreyesus. “All countries can make progress with the resources they have”.

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