|Maghreb ministers promote regional health policy co-ordination
Health ministers from the Maghreb came together last week in Tunis to discuss the importance of regional integration and co-operation in public health policy.
Participants in the tenth round of the Maghreb Health Ministers' Council, held May 8th-10th in Tunis, recommended boosting efforts between Maghreb countries in the manufacturing and unified purchasing of drugs and vaccinations.
The ministers stressed the need to kick off an initial project for registration and continuous control over the drugs, and to boost the partnership between medical labs, in addition to organising workshops on ways to develop the health indicators in the region, and holding other Maghreb meetings on the pharmaceutical sector and ways to combat AIDS.
The officials also recommended the distribution of a Maghreb guide on the maintenance of medical and hospital equipment and the creation of a health information bank in the region.
They also called for the establishment of a Maghreb network for combating cancer, and a Maghreb centre for epidemic alertness and combating chronic and emerging diseases.
"The enhancement of co-operation in the field of medical equipment and its purchase, as well as the training of technical cadres, will allow us to deal with these diseases more effectively," said Dah Weld Haj Sidi, an advisor to the Mauritanian health minister.
Meanwhile, Rached Abou Agila, Secretary of the General People's Committee for Health and Environment in Libya, said the decision by the Presidential Council of the Arab Maghreb Union ten years ago to establish a special health council reflected the importance of this issue to the Maghreb citizen.
"Our goal is to establish a unified policy and to deal with many issues of concern to the Maghreb citizen," he said. "There are technical committees exploring the possibility of buying unified drugs, and dealing with bird flu as well as climate change, and vaccinations and immunizations that can have an effect on the region."
For his part, Moroccan Ambassador to Tunisia Najib Zarou Werati said the meeting was proof of the recent liveliness of the Arab Maghreb Union, and of the efforts made by the General Secretariat to enhance Maghreb co-operation in important sectors, including public health and human development.
Arab Maghreb Union Secretary-General Habib Ben Yahia called upon the region's leaders during the opening session to co-ordinate national health policies and to exchange experience on health reforms, especially those related to the health map, financing the health services, quality and management of hospital institutions.
He also stressed the need for more co-operation and integration among the Maghreb countries to face health dangers and benefit from early warning systems made available by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The next round of the Health Ministers' Council of the Maghreb Union will be held in Morocco in early 2009.