Africa CDC boosts nation’s public health



MASERU – In recent years, African countries have made significant progress in public health supported by the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), says the Director-General of Africa CDC, Dr. Jean Kaseya. This is as efforts to co-ordinate and strengthen disease surveillance and outbreak responses improved and, in turn, enhanced the continent’s ability to respond quickly to public health emergencies.

However, the region continues to face challenges from infectious diseases like malaria, tuberculosis (TB), and HIV/AIDS, which claim millions of lives each year.

The burden of non-communicable diseases is increasing dramatically, and maternal mortality in Africa is among the highest in the world.

These challenges reinforce the need to build resilient health systems that can deliver quality care to all while responding to emerging threats, according to Kaseya.

These issues were raised at the 3rd International Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA 2023) that took place in Lusaka, Zambia.

It was attended by African Heads of State, Ministers of Health, and leading scientists, innovators, and researchers as speakers and participants.

Held under the theme – ‘Breaking Barriers: Repositioning Africa in the Global Health Architecture’, the four-day conference was aimed at putting a spotlight on cutting-edge research and innovations and presenting African-led solutions to public health challenges.

Kaseya said Africa faces significant barriers, but through collective resilience and ingenuity, they are breaking down these barriers and creating a New Public Health Order for the continent.

Kaseya said CPHIA 2023 will advance conversations that will shape the future of health in Africa through the sharing of African-led research, health products, and best practices.

“Our continent is a source of extraordinary knowledge and innovation; this conference will showcase this excellence and position Africa as a transformative force in the global health narrative,’’ Kaseya explained.

CPHIA 2023 is hosted by the African Union and Africa CDC in partnership with the Zambia Ministry of Health and the Zambia National Public Health Institute.

The conference featured nine plenary and 18 parallel sessions, several high-level special sessions, 18 abstract-driven sessions, and over 100 side events.

The in-person conference comes after three days of virtual programming, including 18 virtual abstract sessions and more than 30 virtual side events.

This is the third edition of the conference; the first one was held virtually in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the second edition was held in person in 2022, drawing more than 2,800 participants to Kigali, Rwanda, and an additional 11,625 online.

Professor Senait Fisseha, CPHIA 2023 Co-Chair and Vice President of Global Programmes, commented on the fact that CPHIA started during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it is a pivotal time for Africa and the world.

Coming together virtually in 2021 and in person in 2022, Fisseha said they shared lessons and approaches that saw all through the pandemic, and they have emerged stronger as a continent.

“CPHIA 2023 will build on these foundations, elevating African voices and solutions to create strong, responsive, and resilient health systems in Africa,’’ Fisseha said.

Fisseha further showed that, judging by the successes of CPHIA 2021 and 2022, this year’s convening will show how African researchers and health leaders are leveraging scientific research and innovations to develop groundbreaking solutions to long-standing challenges and generate critical lessons from which the rest of the world can learn.

Discussions in Lusaka also explored resilient financing mechanisms to strengthen pandemic preparedness, Africa’s progress in advancing local production of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics, access to adequate healthcare for women and girls, and multi-sectoral response mechanisms to strengthen health security on the continent.

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