ADDIS ABABA. — African healthcare experts and policymakers, who gathered in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa as part of a high-level continental meeting, called for collective efforts to effectively eradicate major healthcare perils in Africa.
The experts and policymakers made the joint call during a two-day high-level meeting that brought together the African Union (AU), the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The event was aimed to share information on the Ebola virus disease preparedness, vaccines and therapeutics, as well as the spread of major public-health perils. Deputy Chairperson of the AU, Thomas Kwesi Quartey, told African healthcare experts and policymakers that the disproportionate burden of disease faced by Africa, coupled with inadequate health systems and the shortage of health personnel across the continent, “remained a major challenge.”
“Overcoming these challenges requires collective efforts both for Africa as a continent and our partners to build the Africa we want as articulated in the Agenda 2063,” the AU deputy chairperson said.
According to Quartey, Africa must adopt an integrated and comprehensive approach to the health problems it is facing, with particular emphasis on the diseases cross-border nature. Quartey further assured “the strong commitment of the African Union Commission to creating the synergy needed to maximize the impact of our interventions for disease control and prevention in Africa.”
Deputy Executive Director of the UN Economic Commission for Africa’s (ECA), Giovani Biha, also stressed that a committed political leadership, institutional strengthening, investments in health systems, community health and awareness are all crucial to the eradication of the disease from the continent. The ECA deputy chief said “Africa cannot build strong and resilient health systems without adequately investing in hard and soft health infrastructure, including the provision of right numbers of health personnel both in urban and rural areas.”
Biha, who noted that Africa needs to mobilise adequate resources for strong and resilient health systems, also indicated that strategic partnerships, including the role of the private sector, are also critical for a coordinated multi-sectoral response to health challenges in Africa. She also reiterated the ECA’s commitment to healthcare in Africa within the broad framework of economic and social development. “As a premier knowledge institution, we are building on our unique position and privilege to bring global solutions to Africa’s challenges, including Ebola and taking local solutions to the continent,” the deputy executive director said.
The call made by the AU and ECA deputy heads is also shared by the Chairperson of the Governing Board of Africa CDC, Amir Aman, who urged AU member states as well as its partners to share important and latest information on Ebola and other major healthcare perils.
Aman, who is also Ethiopia’s Minister of Health, said that if Africa is to save lives by preventing disease outbreaks “we have to share crucial information because without a healthy population we cannot move the continent forward.” The meeting, which concluded on Saturday, created common understanding about the current state of the Ebola virus disease vaccines and drugs, including evidence and practical considerations for application, it was noted.
Africa’s fight against the life-threatening impacts of the Ebola virus, which was widely considered as Africa’s major cross-border public-health threat in recent years in particular, was “significantly” backed by the support from China, Director of the Africa CDC, John Nkengasong, told Xinhua on the side-lines of the high-level meeting.
The latest 10th Ebola Virus Outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is said to be the second largest outbreak of the deadly virus, after the outbreak that hit West Africa in 2015. Speaking of China’s contribution to Africa’s efforts in taming such problems, Nkengasong said that China has deployed experts in neighbouring countries of the DRC, which the director said is “important support to detect and stop the spread of the Ebola virus.”
“The Chinese government has deployed experts in neighbouring countries in Uganda and other countries,” he said. “It is very important that we are focusing not only in DRC but we are also focusing in the neighbouring countries, just in case the virus escapes.” He also noted that China has been supporting the Africa CDC which has been taking various activities as part of the response efforts to the latest Ebola outbreak in the DRC. With regard to China’s support to the development of Africa CDC, the director said that two Chinese experts are working together with African experts at the headquarters of Africa CDC to develop the centre. – Xinhua