The East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA) was formerly known as the Commonwealth Regional Health Community for East, Central and Southern Africa (CRHC ECSA), established in 1974 under the auspices of the Commonwealth Secretariat in London. Since 1980, ECSA has functioned under the direct control of Member State governments, who see ECSA as a permanent mechanism for promoting cooperation in health in the region.
ECSA originally consisted of nine countries at its founding in 1974, later this number grew to fourteen member countries namely Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Currently ECSA has ten active member states.
In November 2002, The Conference of Health Ministers held in Entebbe, Uganda resolved that the Community be renamed "The East, Central and Southern African Health Community (ECSA)" as part of the institutional reforms undertaken by the Community to reflect ownership. The new name reflects autonomy and captures the geographical reach and outreach of the organization.
Over the last three decades the ECSA Health community has undergone a series of phases of development that underpin its continued existence namely, Foundation years under Commonwealth Secretariat (1974-1980), Regional organisation-expansion of activities (1980-1985), Consolidation of regional organisation-challenging times (1985-1994), Maturing organization and the strategic approach (1995-present)
The ECSA Health Community continues to enjoy strong support from the member states and partners in the region and beyond and this dynamism is reflected in the continuing portfolio of technical programmes.
In 2007 ECSA built and officially launched a new and modern headquarters building in Njiro Area, Arusha, Tanzania further signifying the level of commitment of member states to the continued existence of the organization.
The mandate of ECSA HC is to promote and encourage efficiency and relevance in the provision of health services in the region.