Abidjan, 20 May 2022 (TDI): Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) officers from ECOWAS Centre for Surveillance and Disease Control (RCSDC) have met in a training workshop from May 18 to 20 this week.

West African Health Organization (WAHO), the specialized institution of ECOWAS-RCSDC held the meeting with financial support from USAID.

All RCCE leads from Ministries of Health and National Public Health Institutes of 15 ECOWAS Member States attended the meeting. There was an online meeting in February 2022 for the first-phase discussion.

This time, the 2nd phase focuses on in-depth discussions on the lessons learned from the response to COVID-19. Moreover, the leads have been discussing how to build continuous capacities & capabilities to strengthen the RCCE component in the ECOWAS region.

An Introduction: ECOWAS-RCSDC and WAHO

ECOWAS Centre for Surveillance and Disease Control (RCSDC) is a part of the West African Health Organization (WAHO). WAHO, as a specialized institution of ECOWAS born in 1987, is responsible for regional health issues.

Thus, WAHO aims to promote regional integration on health issues. With high-level integration, WAHO and its partners can enable high-impact and cost-effective interventions and programs.

To achieve the goal, WAHO has lots of comparative advantages. Initially, from the perspective of decision-making and political influence, WAHO has a political mandate and the existence of direct communication with political decision-makers of Member States.

Besides, with professional status, WAHO has the capacity to propose to the Member States regulations focused on health in the region.

Furthermore, WAHO, as a regional institution, also has the capability to mobilize resources, address the needs, guide members with future health interventions, and harmonize health policies.

ECOWAS-WAHO in the Context of COVID-19

The workshop offered by WAHO this week is not the first time that WAHO calls on regional collaboration. On Feb 24, 2022, the Meeting of the Assembly of ECOWAS Health Ministers and the High-Level Summit on Universal Health Coverage were held by WAHO in Ghana.

The meeting adopted the WAHO Vision 2030 Strategic Plan. The WAHO Plan identifies the way for ECOWAS-WAHO to optimize the health needs of citizens. Accelerating access to the availability of inclusive and affordable quality health services will help a lot.

Therefore, Member States can ensure effective public health emergency preparedness and response capabilities across the ECOWAS region. Afterward, the Plan will also strengthen WAHO’s institutional processes in promoting organizational excellence.