By Muhammad Amaan
The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) says it has consistently supported member states to develop robust responses to recurrent and emerging health threats.
Dr Jean Kaseya, Director-General, Africa CDC, made this known in a statement to mark the seventh anniversary of the institution on Thursday.
The statement said the celebration also marked the second anniversary of its elevation into an autonomous institution of the African Union (AU) with the mandate to tackle a broad range of health-related issues across the continent.
The Africa CDC was established in response to the West Africa Ebola outbreak in 2014.
The outbreak resulted in over 28,000 confirmed and probable cases, which led to over 11,300 deaths.
This tragedy highlighted the need for better coordination in dealing with public health emergencies in Africa, hence the founding of Africa CDC in January 2016,
Africa CDC was officially inaugurated in January 2017 as a specialised technical institution of the African Union.
In February 2022, Africa CDC was granted autonomy as the continental health agency of the AU.
This autonomy gives Africa CDC the flexibility to respond rapidly and effectively to emerging health threats, facilitating seamless resource mobilisation and collaboration with a broader range of partners.
Kaseya said: “Africa CDC has expanded significantly, evolving from a team of just 11 staff members to now employing over 300 dedicated professionals.
“Initially, our collaborations were limited to a handful of partners, but we have now grown to engage with more than 200 institutions across various initiatives.
“Our financial resources have also seen remarkable growth, progressing from modest initial funding to successfully mobilising over $2.5 billion to date.
“We have transformed from being a specialised health agency into an autonomous health institution of the Union, overseen by a committee of Heads of State and Government.”
Kaseya added that the centre had provided assistance to member states in addressing three significant public health emergencies of international concern including the Ebola outbreak, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Mpox crisis.
He said that the centre also launched several key initiatives including the Africa Medical Supplies Platform and the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Trust.
According to him, through the collaborative efforts of AU Member States, regional institutions, and global partners, the Africa CDC successfully established an effective platform for disease surveillance, outbreak response, and capacity-building.
“We have relentlessly advocated for a New Public Health Order for Africa, emphasising the necessity for a fundamental shift in our approach to public health on the continent.
“Calling for Africa to take its health security in its own hands, with a focus on strong local leadership, innovative solutions, investment in comprehensive public health infrastructure, and self-reliance,” he said.
Kaseya said the centre had high targets, which included achieving vaccine self-reliance as a way forward.
“Vaccine self-reliance is on the horizon, with a target set by the African Union to produce 60 per cent of our vaccines by 2040.
“We endeavour to recruit two million community health workers, ensuring that every African has access to the health care they deserve.
“We will fully implement Africa CDC’s 2023-2027 strategic plan in response to continental priorities in Agenda 2063.
“As we undertake this endeavour, we will employ a cohesive approach of `one budget, work plan, and one report.’
“As we look ahead, we build our actions on the foundations of our core principles – the five Cs: Community, Connectivity, Capacity, Collaboration, and Climate.
“These pillars have anchored our journey and will continue to guide us as we strive to build a New Public Health Order for Africa,” he said.
As part of the commemoration, Kaseya announced the naming of the new Africa CDC headquarters, consisting of two wings, in honour of two remarkable champions who left an indelible mark on the establishment and advancement of Africa CDC.
According to him, the first wing will be named after Her Excellency Madam Nkosozana Zuma, the former Chair of the African Union Commission, who initially championed the establishment of Africa CDC.
He said the second wing would bear the name of Ambassador John Nkengasong, who served as the inaugural Director of Africa CDC and whose exceptional leadership guided the institution through the challenging days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that the naming of the buildings served as a tangible embodiment of their enduring legacy, a testament to their unwavering commitment to safeguarding the health of every African citizen.
Kaseya said he was optimistic that with the support of partners, stakeholders, and most importantly, Africans, “we can and will rise to all our challenges”.
“And I am confident we will get to our destination with your support. Thank you for standing with Africa CDC. Together, we are unstoppable!” he stated.