By Haruna Gimba
Countries in the Central Africa sub-region has established the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Regional Collaborating Centre to improve surveillance, preparedness and response to infectious and non-communicable diseases.
Rising from a two-day meeting in Libreville, Gabon, the countries operationalised the Africa CDC Regional Collaborating Centre (RCC).
The centre will coordinate the efforts of Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sao Tomé and Principe and Chad to jointly strengthen surveillance, emergency response and prevention of infectious and non-communicable diseases.
The Central Africa sub-region has witnessed several disease outbreaks including Ebola, Cholera and Hepatitis in addition to a high burden of malaria, HIV, tuberculosis, vaccine-preventable diseases and neglected tropical diseases.
Director of the Africa Centres of Disease Control and Prevention, Dr John Nkengasong, said the recent African Heads of State and Government declaration, committing to accelerate the implementation of International Health Regulations, demonstrate the resolve of African countries to strengthen public health systems and core capacities
critical to address the health security of the continent.
“Health security is a solid foundation for the socio-economic and structural transformation of the continent. Regional Collaborating Centres will translate these bold commitments to concrete action by using all public assets that exist in the sub-region to effectively network and sustain collaboration for disease control. A disease threat anywhere in Africa is a threat everywhere on the continent,” Nkengasong added.
Disease outbreaks are increasing globally due to environmental degradation, climate change, population growth and increased cross-border movements.
The Declaration to accelerate the implementation of International Health Regulations together with the Africa Health Strategy (2016-2030) and the Africa Agenda 2063 – the Africa we want, provide a unique opportunity for a new public health order in Africa to safeguard the health security of the continent.
Gabon’s Minister of Equal Opportunities, Mr Blaise Louembe, said that emerging and recurrent diseases are threatening the collective efforts to transform the region. He said: “The Regional Collaborating Centre provides an opportunity for effective collaboration, integration and coordination of epidemiological surveillance, strengthening existing networks of quality laboratories for early detection and response.
“We cannot deliver effectively if we do not implement a one health approach bringing human, animal and environmental health together to better manage risks.”
Health Reporters gathered that the Central Africa RCC will work to harness the public health assets that already exist in the sub-region including the World Health Organisation, universities, national public health institutes, private laboratories, centres of excellence, non-governmental organisations and veterinary networks.
The Africa CDC Regional Collaborating Centres will work closely with the Africa CDC secretariat in Addis Ababa, the Africa CDC Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Network and the Regional Integrated Surveillance and Laboratory Networks.