Fostering Transformative Partnerships for Women’s Health in Africa: Insights from the African Women’s Health Symposium.

By Samantha Katsande

On the 23rd of May I had the privilidge of being selected to represent AL for Health at the Africa Women’s Health Symposium themed “A new dawn of partnerships for women’s health” an event that focused on bringing together private sector, development partners and the public sector. The aim of the gathering was to explore the way forward in addressing the health challenges faced by women on a daily basis. The event also focused on the need for advocating for women health in the decision-making processes of health systems, acting through partnerships to eliminate barriers to healthcare access and advancing existing innovations, initiatives and best practices to better women’s health. Overall, the symposium provided a comprehensive platform to explore innovative approaches and foster meaningful dialogue on improving health outcomes for women in Africa.

The symposium also featured a variety of panel discussions that offered deeper dive into specialized topics. I attended two panel sessions on “Diagnostics as an Enabler for Advancing Women’s Health from Prevention, to Detection, to Management,” and “Innovative Approaches to Increase Access to Medicines and Vaccines for Women’s Health”. These provided valuable insights into the diagnostic gap in Africa and the importance of private-private partnerships in meeting and addressing the gap. Panelists explored the challenges faced in primary health care in diagnosing diseases affecting women and accessing vaccines once diagnosis has been confirmed.

From the unavailability of the resources to conduct the right test, leading to tests being conducted at the wrong time due to long waiting times. However, the sessions not only focused on the challenges but also shared the various initiatives being pioneered by their organizations in various African countries hence showing that there is hope in addressing the current existing gaps.  For example, a speaker from MSD, a global healthcare company, shared how the company was at the forefront of driving the human papilloma (HPV) vaccine for women and girls around the world. The vaccine offers an opportunity to decrease the burden of HPV infection and its sequelae, including cervical cancer precursors, cervical cancer, other anogenital cancers and more. Such innovation and initiatives leave me with hope as a young woman and a health professional.

The symposium reinforced the importance of collaboration in addressing the unique health challenges women face. My key takeaways include the urgent need to address health disparities and the potential of going beyond the public-private to explore new private-private partnerships. Moving forward, as a Program Officer at Action on Preeclampsia Ghana I am committed to promoting and exploring partnerships and collaborations that promote equitable healthcare for all women. This symposium has not only broadened my understanding but also fueled my passion for making a tangible impact in the field of women’s health.

Overall, the African Women’s Health Symposium was a transformative experience that has equipped me with the knowledge and inspiration to contribute meaningfully to the advancement of women’s health initiatives.

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