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    Health must come before politics in WHO-Africa's reforms [editorial]

    Lancet. 2005 Mar 19; 365:1004.

    An impressive fanfare of melodic African gospel music heralded the long-awaited launch last week of the final report of the Commission for Africa. The 17-strong Commission, chaired by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, set out to take “a fresh look” at Africa’s past and present, and make realistic recommendations for the continent’s survival. The Commission’s report is a laudable achievement: the hefty volume is a pragmatic and decisive review of Africa’s needs. It is, as promised, unfalteringly honest— and health initiatives are not spared criticism. According to the report, the failings of current health efforts are clear: there are too many initiatives and too little coordination. The Commission’s solution focuses on harmonisation of health policy at a national level and integration of donor-led initiatives into governmental plans. As if in preparation for these recommendations, Luís Sambo, head of the WHO’s African Regional Office, last week concluded a tour of the UK and USA by announcing sweeping reforms of WHO/AFRO. He plans to decentralise activities and give more authority to country representatives “to cope with potential increases in resources”. (excerpt)
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