The African Health Observatory – a step forward


The WHO Regional Office for Africa recently called for an expert consultation to review the progress of the African Health Observatory (AHO) and advise on concrete further steps to interact with countries in the African Region via national health observatories (NHOs). A total of 24 experts from 13 countries attended the meeting, held on 28–30 April 2014 in Brazzaville, Congo.

One of the objectives of the AHO expert consultation was to share information and experience on the current state of development of the AHO and other health observatories.

An overview of health observatories around the world clearly showed the variety of roles and functions of observatories. Representatives from the Global Health Observatory, the European Health Systems Observatory and the WHO Western Pacific Region Health Information and Intelligence Platform presented their observatories.
Components and tools of the AHO platform ‒ the data warehouse, the analytic profiles, the publications and networking tools – as well as the NHOs guidelines that are in development were also presented and discussed. These components and tools, made available by the AHO to all countries in the African Region, could be used by countries to develop NHOs, according to their own priorities.

Seven countries in the African Region that have developed or are at different stages of planning or developing their observatories gave presentations: Algeria, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, the Congo, Rwanda, Seychelles and Sierra Leone.

International experts shared their experience in the process of developing and managing global, national or sub-national health observatories. During the extensive discussions that took place, country representatives and professionals involved in health observatories around the world discussed ways to address major challenges like human resources, costs involved, health observatories key functions and structure, data quality, etc.

Participants agreed that health observatories should play a major role in making available information, evidence and knowledge to help the decision making process. They also strongly supported the role of the Regional Office and the AHO in assisting countries in the establishment of health observatories that best respond to their needs and context.

You can read the results of the consultation, including its conclusions, suggestions and recommendation.

Photos: WHO/AFRO