AU: COVID-19 offers ‘historic opportunity’ for new public health order …to counter future crisis

The African Union (AU) Commission on Tuesday said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic offers a “historic opportunity” to build a new public health order in Africa to counter future health crises.
Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the 55-member pan-African bloc, made the remarks at the inaugural International Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA-2021), which runs from December 14 to 16 virtually. 
“The African continent has not been spared from the devastating effects due to COVID-19. Many have fallen sick, pushing our health systems to their limits,” Mahamat said. 
According to the AU Commission chief, the economic damage caused by COVID-19 has left many jobless, hungry and vulnerable, as he stressed that the effects on the economy, on health security and sustainable development cannot be overstated. 
“Despite this, we have great hopes for the future. COVID-19 has also created a historic opportunity to build a new public health order that can effectively guard against future health crises,” Mahamat told African leaders and health experts virtually, attending the CPHIA-2021. 
He stressed that the inaugural Conference on Public Health in Africa, which is being hosted by the AU and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), is a first step in making the desired new public health order a reality.
Mahamat stressed that the conference is expected to provide “a unique platform that brings together the best and brightest minds in public health in Africa to gather in service of this larger goal.” 
“Together, we will create a new benchmark for collective effort and participation as we advance public health and practice, education, training, and research in Africa, for Africa,” he added. 
The three-day conference, from December 14 to 16, is expected to attract more than 10,000 participants from 140 countries around the world, featuring presentations from African heads of state and government, dignitaries and leading health experts, according to the organisers. 
The participants are expected to discuss accelerating progress against COVID-19 and chart a new path forward for public health on the continent, it was noted. 
According to the Africa CDC, the CPHIA-2021 comes at a critical time for Africa and the world. –Xinhua

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