The African Union Heads of State on Tuesday launched the African Centre for Disease Control in a bid to curb emerging and reemerging disease threats.
According to an advisory from the African Union, the CDC will provide early warning and response surveillance systems, respond to emergencies, build capacity, and provide technical expertise to address health emergencies in a timely and effective manner.
Such efforts, it is hoped, will reduce sickness and death by improving prevention, detection, and response to public health threats.
The AU Member States will be the direct beneficiaries of the Africa CDC. By supporting African countries in their efforts to monitor the public’s health, respond to emergencies, address complex health challenges, and build needed capacity, the Africa CDC will help close dangerous gaps in Africa’s public health systems.
As an African-owned institution, the Africa CDC is uniquely positioned to help protect the health of the continent. It will also join the international networks of public health institutions to share information and improve surveillance of public health threats.
The need for an Africa CDC to support African countries as they monitor and respond to public health threats was recognized by the African Union in 2013 and formalized in 2015.
The African Union Ministers of Health meeting in Malabo adopted the Statute of the Africa CDC in July 2015 and urged the fast tracking of the establishment of the institution.
In the next 5 years, the Africa CDC will work with member states, WHO, and partners to strengthen their capacity in four strategic priority areas:
• health-related surveillance and innovative information systems, with a focus on improved capacity for event-based surveillance, disease prediction, and improved public health decision making and action;
• functional and linked clinical and public health laboratory networks in the five geographic subregions of Africa;
• support for member states’ public health emergency preparedness and response plans; and
• strengthened public health science for improved decision making and practice. To ensure capacity to implement the strategic priority areas, the Africa CDC will develop innovative programmes in the areas of competency-based workforce development, partnerships, financing of public health activities, and communication among member states. This approach will support African countries to achieve existing international health targets, including the Sustainable Development Goals, the International Health Regulations (IHR), and universal health coverage.
The Africa CDC will operate on a decentralised model driven by implementation of operational approaches that enables member states to own and facilitate an increase in the proximity of their response capabilities.
Thus, Africa CDC will operate as a network, with a headquarters in Addis Ababa and close linkage with five Regional Collaborating Centres in Egypt, Nigeria, Gabon, Zambia, and Kenya.
Each collaborating centre will be equipped with laboratory and advanced diagnostic capacity to rapidly detect known and unknown pathogens. In addition, the Africa CDC will advocate and promote the establishment or strengthening of National Public Health Institutes (NPHIs) in each member state, resulting in an African Public Health Network.