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February 25, 2024
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Only 1 African country ready for public health emergency responses – CDC

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By Vivian Ihechu


The Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (AfricaCDC) says at present, only one country is ready to respond to public health emergencies in Africa.

The Director-General of the Africa CDC, Dr Jean Kaseya, said this in Lusaka, Zambia at the third International Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA) holding from Nov. 27 to Nov.30, 2023.

Kaseya spoke during a side event to unveil a five-year strategic plan for strengthening public health emergency operations centres in Africa and countries in the Eastern Mediterranean region on Thursday.

He urged members states to accelerate measures and mechanisms to enhance responses to public health emergency.

Kaseya explained that absence of preparedness from other countries exposes all countries in the Africa region to risks of outbreaks if any occurs.

“If we want to consider the score for vulnerability, how countries are rated, ready, well prepared to respond to outbreaks, only one country in Africa is ready.

“It means all other countries are at risk. If we know that, then we can say we are all exposed.

“The Africa region is facing an average of two to three outbreaks per week.

“From January to November 2023, we already have 158 public health emergencies that we are managing.

“You can imagine, we are out of COVID-19 but we still have other 158 public health emergencies.

“The only way to prevent and respond to outbreaks is through strong Public Health Emergency Operation Centres (PHEOCs),’’ he said.

He noted that there were still gaps to be filled as disparity still exists.

He, however, said some progress had been recorded in strengthening emergency preparedness and response but called for partnerships to foster the implementation of the five-year strategic plan.

“The disparity that we see is calling us to have a strong partnership.

“This is why we are calling all of our colleagues, all of our partners to consider what we will achieve under this five-year strategic plan – 90 per cent of at least of countries with PHEOCs.

“We need $181million to implement this plan. Let us put our hands together, let us be sure that we are working, let us ensure that we provide at least the $181million that we are requesting,” Kaseya noted.

He pledged a commitment to sensitising member states to contribute towards the implementation of the plan.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the five-year strategic plan for 2023 to 2027 is in partnership with the AfricaCDC, the World Health Organisation, member States, UK Health Security Agency and other development partners.

The five-year strategic plan for 2023 to 2027 is expected to be operational in at least 50 African countries to enhance health preparedness and response.

The strategic plan is to guide the implementation of the PHEOCs in Member States of the African and Eastern Mediterranean Regions towards meeting the minimum requirements or core capacities of the PHEOC.

The plan will guide nations as they actively work to position PHEOCs as central nerve centres for risk assessment, planning, and sharing of critical resources.

The PHEOC is critical to meeting the requirements of international health regulations by assisting Member States to build and improve their public health emergency management capabilities.

However, it is estimated that $181,837,498 is needed to implement the activities planned for the next five years in both regions.

The budget will cover costs related to renovating the PHEOC facilities, procurement of information and communication technology equipment, salary and daily subsistence allowances for experts, workshop participation, training and simulation exercise programmes, and establishing regional PHEOCs of excellence, among others.

In her remarks, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, noted that the strategy will shape the future of public health in the African region and the Eastern Mediterranean region.

According to her, the devastating impact of disease outbreaks and conflict jeopardises the health of millions of people and poses challenges that threaten their health.

“Together, we are working to the next phase.

“Ensuring a safer, healthier and more resilient future where public health emergencies no longer hold us captive with fear because we have broken the chain that makes inability to respond and to recover,’’ Moeti said.

NAN also reports that on the sidelines of 41st Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union and the fourth Mid-Year Coordination Meeting of the AU and the Regional Economic Communities, in Lusaka, Zambia, July 16, 2022, Heads of State and Government and leaders of delegations,urged all African Union Member States and partners to recognise and prioritise PHEOCs as an important pillar in health emergency preparedness and response.

They had also called upon the AU and  Africa CDC to put in place a continental mechanism and structure to coordinate the accelerated establishment/strengthening of the PHEOCs in Africa and collaborate with all relevant stakeholders. (NAN) www.nannews.ng


Edited by Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma

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