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WAHSUN turns 10 years old looking for new partners to meet health needs of West Africa

21 December 2017
The celebrations will take place in the third week of February of 2018 in Abuja, Nigeria, where the West African Health Sector Unions’ Network (WAHSUN) was founded on 9th November 2007.

“WAHSUN’s projections for the next few years is to create a large front of trade unions and CSOs on healthcare that will make all organizations come together in order to have a single voice to impact governments’ policies, help shape healthcare services in the sub-region and reach a stage where ECOWAS and WAHO will see WAHSUN as a progressive partner and collaborator in meeting the health needs of the people.”

These were the words of Abdrafiu Alani Adeniji, Chairman of the WAHSUN, after a day’s brief preparatory meeting in Accra to discuss plans towards the celebration of the 10th year of the network – which over the past ten years has seen its membership expanded to cover 14 unions in 9 of the 15 countries constituting ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States), including English and French-speaking countries.
At the meeting, the leadership agreed, though, that as a network that is still trying to be properly recognized by sub-regional organizations such as the ECOWAS, WAHO and ILO, there is the need to work on getting direct contacts to strategic people in such organizations so that they could help recognize the major role WAHSUN is playing in contributing to promoting health in the region.

“As we mark ten years of WAHSUN, and with the extent of consolidation we have received from our affiliates in our member African countries, we have basically realized there is the need to move to the next level of our work. This next level is to collaborate with other agencies of government, non-governmental organizations, and civil society organizations in taking the health of the people in this region to a stage that is beneficial to them,” added Adeniji.

Boubacar Bobaoua, Secretary General of SUSAS in Niger, for instance stated how pertinent personalities like the Secretary General for WAHO, who is a Nigerien, can be a good contact in helping WAHSUN attain this goal of building strategic contacts.

Major challenges

Chairman Adeniji also outlined some of the major challenges WAHSUN has been faced with, in its work of providing quality health care for all in the region:

  • The level of involvement of trade unions in the formulation of health care policies. Governments have not been fully taken on board in terms of the contributions of unions in their work of policy formulation yet without them, there cannot be successful or fairly efficient healthcare services. This is why there is the need for collaboration just as WAHSUN has done with the West African Health Organization (WAHO), an arm of ECOWAS, concerning their ideas with governments in the region on accessible, affordable and safe healthcare of people;
  • The issue of poverty within the region and until government work on eradicating poverty, the fight to bring good and sustainable healthcare to the people cannot be fully attained;
  • The re-emergence of certain non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiac arrests, etc. that are killing a lot of people. Although secondary to communicable diseases, without a united front to work and think through the issues present, it will be difficult to fight the current situation;
  • Government financing of healthcare services. Governments seem to think that investment in healthcare is not very productive but this is not so as health investment is a long term investment in empowering people to be more productive, the creation of healthy workforce.

The WAHSUN anniversary will be spearheaded by a plenary meeting a day before the actual start of the celebrations set to be held in Abuja, Nigeria. Activities such as the “Health For All Campaign” will be a major talking point during this meeting.

Present at the meeting in Accra were Chairman/President, Abdrafiu Adeniji; Secretary, Franklin Owusu-Ansah; Secretary General of Le Syndicat Unique de la Santé et de l'Action Sociale (SUSAS), Niger, Boubacar Bobaoua; Reynolds O. Tenkorang, General Secretary (HSWU); Perpetual Ofori –Ampofo, General Secretary for the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association (GRNMA); PSI Sub-Regional Secretary for English-Speaking Africa, Everline Aketch; PSI Health Crisis Response Coordinator, Wendy Verheyden; PSI Communication Consultant, Etsey Atisu.

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