Invest in public health emergencies, Africa CDC urges member states

Invest in public health emergencies, Africa CDC urges member states

The Africa Centre for Disease and Prevention Control, on Wednesday, called on member states to learn from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and invest in public health emergencies.

Head, Disease Control and Prevention at Africa CDC, Dr. Mohammed Abudulaziz, made this call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja, on the sidelines of a three-day workshop on Regional Integrated Surveillance and Laboratory Networks implementation for the West African Region.

RISLNET is a ‘network of networks’ that harness existing public health assets in five African Union members.

It is to strengthen national and regional laboratory and Surveillance systems, improve quality standards and promote networks for integration whilst leveraging the existing assets within the various sub-regions.

The workshop was organis by African Union/Africa CDC and West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO).

Abdulaziz said that when the continent was confronted with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Africa CDC rose to the occasion in strengthening regional public health agencies that took the center stage.

He said preparedness for any outbreak would be binding to secure member states’ collaboration upon declaration of public health emergency of regional concern, irrespective of leadership or politics at the time.

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“African leaders must honour their commitments to allocate at least 15 per cent of their annual budgets to the health sector, as they agreed in the Abuja declaration in 2001.

“Today, spending on health across the continent ranges from 0.1 per cent to 2 per cent of a nation’s Gross Domestic Product,” he said.

Abdulaziz said renewing this commitment is especially urgent as the goals articulated in the Agenda 2063 began to be realised.

“For instance, the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement creates a trade area, including 1.3 billion people across 55 countries.

“Likewise, the African Union’s Protocol on Free Movement of Persons in Africa will enable people to move around the continent without visas.

“Both of these steps are crucial to economic development. They also come with major public health implications,” he said.

Abdulaziz disclosed that African heads of state supported efforts to strengthen and expand the structures within the continent to manage health emergencies.

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He said it included giving authority and autonomy to the Africa CDC and Prevention and creating a pandemic preparedness and response authority, an epidemic fund, and a health workforce task team.

Abdulaziz said that building a regional control and capability could not be over emphasised.

“This means strengthening national public-health institutions, such as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and the Zambia National Public Health Institute in Lusaka.

“It also means strengthening and empowering Africa CDC and its five Regional Collaborating Centres.

“These are the ‘Africa-owned institutions’ that are crucial to prevent, detect and respond to public-health threats.

“Ultimately, both national public-health institutions and regional centres must be the command centres for the control of disease outbreaks,” he said.

 Africa CDC established RISLNET for all the African Regions in an effort to address critical need for comprehensive and quality laboratory and surveillance systems and networks within the continent.

NAN recalls that the organisers says RISLNET will be officially launched at the workshop with Western African Regional Member States for the region. 

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It reports that the focus of the workshop will include a framework for the governance of the RISLNET in the West Africa region.

It will agree on RISLNET structure for the West Africa Regional Collaborating Centre (RCC) and define its functions and operation.

It will also Introduce Global Health Systems Solutions and Institut Pasteur Dakar as the partners who will work closely with Africa CDC, WAHO, and the regional member states for RISLNET implementation in the region.

It says the workshop will also discuss and agree on the development of draft policy and framework document for RISLNET. 




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