Faustine Ndugulile: I envision Africa in which we all flourish in optimal health

Saturday July 06 2024

Tanzania’s former deputy Minister for Health Doctor Faustine Ndugulile, nominated as a candidate for WHO Regional Director for Africa. PHOTO | POOL


The former deputy Health minister Faustine Ndugulile in Tanzania, who is vying for the position of World Health Organisation (WHO) Africa director, spoke to Apolinari Tairo on his vision.


Why do you think you are the ideal candidate?

I have over 20 years of experience in Tanzania and globally. I will bring a wide range of technical, policy and legislative experience. With the ongoing transformation taking place at WHO AFRO, and the newly approved WHO General Programme of Work 14, we need a regional director who brings leadership, reputation and integrity to this position. I believe I have what it takes.

What is your vision in transforming the current health situation and challenges facing health development in Africa?

Some good progress has been made in the health sector in Africa, but the burden of diseases remains higher in some areas, mostly maternal and infant deaths, and high burden of infectious diseases such as malaria, TB and HIV/Aids, not forgetting the high rise of non-communicable diseases. My vision is to ensure that Africa will be a continent where every individual flourishes with optimal health and wellbeing supported by accessible, equitable and sustainable health care systems.


Civil wars and conflicts in some African countries have impacted health services, how would you address them?

Conflicts, pandemics and effects of climate change are currently the biggest challenges in Africa and have a negative impact on health systems. We have seen conflicts denying needy people access to the health services and disrupting infrastructure and health facilities supply chains.

The solutions to these challenges are both technical and political. I would advocate political solutions to conflicts, but also work with all stakeholders to promote health services in those countries or areas with health workers in conflict affected areas.

African is still suffering from health problems caused by Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). How would you address these?

Africa still accounts for over 40 percent of the burden of NTDs globally. These diseases are associated with poverty and are perpetuated by lack of basic services such as water, sanitation and literacy. Most of these conditions are preventable and curable. We have seven years to achieve the global goal of eliminating NTDs by the year 2030.

Read: Why neglected tropical diseases need attention

I applaud the efforts made so far by the member States, WHO and other stakeholders in reducing the burden of NTDs on the continent.
I would mobilise political, financial and technical resources from member States and other global partners to accelerate the control and move towards elimination of NTDs in the African region.

What would you draw from your experience in Tanzania to share with other African states?

Tanzania has done very well in attaining high levels of childhood immunisation coverage and we have drastically reduced preventable diseases in children.

Most governments are still facing budgetary constraints in their health sector. How would you to attract funding to the health sector in Africa?

We are still far from implementing the Abuja Declaration, which requires every African State to allocate 15 percent of the national budget to improve health care and services. We need to explore mechanisms to increase domestic funding and explore innovative funding mechanisms.

I would engage continental political bodies, including the Africa Union Commission, regional and sub-regional economic and health bodies, regional banks such as the African Development Bank and the private sector in mobilising the support and resources needed for the overall improvement of health services and outcomes in the continent.