IANPHI Annual Meeting Highlights Value of Investing in Public Health in Africa

National Public Health Institute (NPHI) leaders from African countries met in November 2018 for the fourth annual IANPHI Africa Regional Network meeting during the IANPHI Annual Meeting hosted by Public Health England in London.

IANPHI Africa Regional Network meeting

A major part of the IANPHI Africa Regional Network meeting is formal and informal networking, with many of the discussions focused on establishing and extending public health emergency preparedness and response. “You are not alone,” said Dr. Natalie Mayet, IANPHI Africa Network chair and co-director at the South African Regional Global Disease Detection Center at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, “as peers we can support one another.”

This year's meeting focused on issues unique to this region. Much time was spent discussing the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC)NPHI Development Framework, the NPHI Legislative Framework, and the development of the Africa CDC scorecard for NPHIs. Though these documents are in draft form, they are already being used by leaders in African countries as they work to establish NPHIs. Participants explored the role of NPHIs in facilitating Joint External Evaluations (JEE) and the National Action Plan for Health Security.

Dr. Victor Mukonka (Zambia NPHI), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu (Nigeria CDC) and Dr. Raji Tajudeen (Africa CDC) shared updates from the South, West and East Regional Collaborating Centres, respectively. Further discussions included the introduction of the Epidemiological Surveillance Network (RIPOST) by Dr. A. da Silva of the Agency of Preventive Medicine. RIPOST aims to support the West African Health Organization in reducing morbidity and mortality from potential epidemic infectious diseases by strengthening technical and managerial capacities of public health institutions in six ECOWAS member states through a two-fold program. These include providing in-service training for public health professionals on epidemiology, and operational research and interventions to improve national capacity for social and community mobilization to meet health information system needs for epidemic disease control and prevention.

Dr. John Paul Clarke, programme co-ordinator at the World Bank, outlined plans for the Regional Disease Surveillance System Enhancement Program (REDISSE), which, with a focus on West Africa, seeks to strengthen national, regional and cross-sectoral capacity for integrated disease surveillance and response through interdependent projects. Participants presented a “way forward”, which included plans for the 2019 meeting to be hosted by the Ethiopian Public Health Institute.

IANPHI is a proud supporter of Africa CDC in strengthening public health capacity in Africa. The IANPHI Africa Regional Network comprises institutes that are actively involved in Africa CDC and support its vision for a safer, healthier, integrated and prosperous Africa. During the IANPHI Africa Regional Network meeting members discussed a recent public health emergency management workshop that took place in Lusaka, Zambia, for the SADC region. They discussed the JEEs currently being conducted on the continent and the role of NPHIs in addressing recommendations from the JEE and implementing national action plans in response.

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