Africa CDC Launches to Close Dangerous Gaps in Africa's Public Health Systems

On January 31, 2017, the African Union Commission launched the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to help combat future health threats, prevent the spread of diseases and protect the overall health of Africans.

Africa CDC logo

Over the past 20 years, the continent has made tremendous progress in its response to public health challenges such as TB, HIV/AIDs, and malaria. Despite its progress, Africa lacked a system to coordinate, prepare for and respond to health emergencies, like the 2014 Ebola crisis that claimed the lives of more than 11,000 West Africans and infected more than 28,000, illuminating the need for an all-encompassing institute.

In 2013 the African Union decided to establish a center that would close the gaps in Africa's public health systems in order to achieve the African Union's dream of an integrated, prosperous, and peaceful Africa. In collaboration with IANPHI, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and a host of other strategic partners, the Africa CDC began to take shape in 2015.

The five-year plan for Africa CDC consists of building capacity in its defined strategic priority areas including surveillance and epidemic intelligence, laboratory systems and networks, information systems, emergency preparedness and response, and public health research.

Africa CDC will function as a network out of Addis Ababa with five Regional Collaborating Centers in Egypt, Nigeria, Gabon, Zambia, and Kenya. Each center will have the capacity to rapidly detect outbreaks through public health infectious disease surveillance. Africa CDC will also serve as an advocate for the establishment and strengthening of national public health institutes (NPHI) in each of its member states, resulting in an African public health network, similar to the IANPHI Africa Regional Network.

Led by Natalie Mayet, director of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), the IANPHI Africa Regional Network, also called IANPHI Africa, is working with Africa CDC to develop the capacity building tools needed to carry out the mission of safeguarding Africa's health. IANPHI is supporting capacity building in many countries around the world including: EthiopiaMozambique and Guinea-Bissau. Africa CDC can build on these core NPHI functions while strengthening the leadership within African countries and their institutes.

IANPHI Africa and Africa CDC are strong allies in the battle to address critical public health threats in African nations such as child mortality. According to the Child Health and Mortality Prevention Surveillance Network (CHAMPS) -- children in Sub-Saharan Africa are 15 times more likely to die before the age of five than children in high-income countries. CHAMPS is partnering with local NPHIs in five African countries to build knowledge to save young lives and putting data-to-action for policy change.

"The African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention will help African countries effectively monitor public health, respond to public health emergencies, address complex health challenges, and build needed capacity," said Dr. Nkosanzan Dlamini-Zuma, former chairperson of the African Union Commission.

You can read more about the Africa CDC launch.

Additional Resources

Immunization drive hailed as watershed for Africa as leaders target public health

African Union and U.S. CDC Partner to Launch African CDC

African CDC to Open

Africa Starts Its Own Disease Control Agency

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