Africa CDC: Revamping public health systems on course …to boost COVID-19 response

Revitalising Africa’s public health systems through sufficient funding, research and training has been prioritised in order to boost the continent’s ability to respond to pandemics, a senior official of the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) has said.

Dr Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, the deputy director of Africa CDC, said that a robust public health system is key to minimising impacts of disease outbreaks on the continent’s economies and livelihoods. 

“The new public health agenda that we envision for the continent aims to strengthen response to health emergencies, including pandemics,” Dr Ouma said at a forum in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, Monday evening. 

Senior policy makers and researchers attended the forum convened by Africa CDC and Kofi Annan Foundation to honor the next generation of Africa’s public health leaders who are expected to raise the bar in the continent’s disease response.

Launched in April 2021, the Africa CDC and Kofi Annan Foundation’s fellowship program aims to identify and nurture leaders who will steer the continent’s public health agenda in the near future.

Dr Ouma said the inaugural cohort of 20 fellows who were competitively shortlisted are expected to undergo training while sharing best practices on revitalising Africa’s public health systems in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He said the fellowship program will address the skills gap, promote research and innovation, strengthen policy and institutional frameworks as a prerequisite to establishing a resilient public health system in the continent.

Dr Ouma said that the creation of a new Africa’s public health order is on course to enable the continent respond effectively to communicable diseases, including rift valley fever, malaria, yellow fever, measles and cholera, while stressing that the continent’s ability to respond to future health emergencies will be dependent on boosting local manufacturing for vaccines and therapeutics, domestic financing and retraining healthcare workforce. 

Alex Coutinho, the program director of Kofi Annan Public Health Leadership Program, said that African countries should leverage strategic collaborations, innovations and skilled workforce to revitalise action on the disease burden. -Xinhua 

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