by Ayele Addis Ambelu +251918718307

“It a great pride to see our @AfricaCDC growing, thriving, and achieving more than what one has ever thought of in just seven years of its existence. As we reflect on our collective achievements, we’re inspired by the impact created, the lives saved, and the resilience of our continent.” ~ H.E @JeanKaseya2 at the 7th Anniversary of @AfricaCDC.

Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) is a specialized technical institution of the African Union established to support public health initiatives of Member States and strengthen the capacity of their public health institutions to detect, prevent, control, and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats. Africa CDC supports African Union Member States in providing coordinated and integrated solutions to their public health infrastructure inadequacies, human resource capacity, disease surveillance, laboratory diagnostics, and preparedness and response to health emergencies and disasters.

Established in January 2016 by the 26th Ordinary Assembly of Heads of State and Government and officially launched in January 2017, Africa CDC is guided by leadership, credibility, ownership, delegated authority, timely dissemination of information, and transparency in its day-to-day activities. The institution serves as a platform for Member States to share and exchange knowledge and lessons from public health interventions.

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 African public health emergencies. Africa CDC was founded in January 2016 and officially inaugurated in January 2017 as a specialized 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 mobilization and collaboration with a broader range of partners.

In 2023, Africa CDC developed its 1st strategic plan for 2023-2027, which builds upon the lessons learned and insights from implementing the first strategic plan (2017- 2021). The strategic plan strengthens the Africa CDC’s efforts to implement the New Public Health Order and the Africa Health Strategy in achieving Agenda 2063’s aspiration on health.

The New Public Health Order aims to bolster the self-reliance of African public health systems, rectify global imbalances, amplify Africa’s influence in global health discussions, and improve the continent’s effectiveness in preparing for and responding to disease threats.

The main achievements of the Africa CDC are that since 2017, it has consistently supported member states in developing robust responses to recurrent and emerging health threats. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Africa CDC’s leadership and coordination were lauded across the continent and globally. Africa CDC played a pivotal role in mitigating the impact of the virus, resulting in fewer cases and deaths being reported on the continent.

Africa experiences over 100 health emergencies per year. Currently, the Southern Africa region is grappling with the resurgence of infectious diseases such as Cholera. Since January 1st, 2023, more than 3,000 people have lost their lives due to Cholera, and over 183,000 cases have been reported in the SADC region. Zambia, in particular, has been hit the hardest, with 14,116 cases and 662 deaths reported since the beginning of this outbreak in October 2023.

In response to this urgent need for intervention, Africa CDC is initiating a multifaceted support strategy, which includes training and deploying 500 community health workers in the Kanyama and Matara districts—reinforcing Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) and Social and Behavioral Change (SBC) interventions.

Additionally, Africa CDC aims to produce Information, Education, and
Communication (IEC) materials. This includes 10,000 flyers and radio jingles in various local languages to disseminate crucial information to affected communities.

The aim is to strengthen laboratory capacity for genomic sequencing to identify and prevent the spread of new variants of pathogens. To achieve this, fifty healthcare workers will be trained in sample collection and referral. At the same time, 150 clinical management staff, including doctors, clinical officers, nurses, laboratory technicians, environmental health technicians, and pharmacists, will be deployed to provide essential care.

Medical supplies, including oral rehydration salts (ORS) and disinfectants, and water quality monitoring will be procured. Reinforce cross-border surveillance measures, encouraging information sharing among member states within the region. Activated the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC)

These initiatives reflect Africa CDC’s proactive and concerted efforts to address the urgent health crisis and protect the well-being of affected populations in Southern Africa and beyond. However, the root cause of Cholera must be addressed by ensuring that all sectors involved are mobilized together beyond the health sector. There is a need for more vaccines and mobilizing resources to provide the countries with the resources necessary to manage outbreaks and other diseases. Water, sanitation, hygiene (WASH) promotion and behavioral change, as well as strengthening the health system of our member states.

Africa CDC is dedicated to enhancing disease surveillance throughout the continent. The Regional Integrated Surveillance and Laboratory Networks (RISLNET) solidifies our pledge to detect diseases and respond to outbreaks promptly. Africa CDC has introduced numerous programs and initiatives to bridge this gap, such as Africa Volunteers Health Corps, Kofi Annan, and the Field Epidemiology Training Program.