African Nations Collaborate To Tackle Disease Outbreak With New Pact

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Yemisi Izuora 

A new partnership agreement between the African Risk Capacity, ARC and the Africa Centre for Disease Control, ACDC, is now widening the Continent’s disease outbreak preparedness.

The ARC and Africa CDC have been working together, in collaboration with other stakeholders, on establishing the “Africa Epidemic Preparedness Index” which is an innovative project for strengthening outbreak preparedness assessment within the framework of the International Health Regulation (IHR 2005) compliance.

“This Agreement is in line with our ongoing strategic and technical collaboration to provide AU Member States with an array of risk management tools, including early warning, contingency planning, and alternative financing options against infectious diseases”, said ASG Mohamed Beavogui, the Director-General of ARC. “The next steps will be to explore how quickly we can assist Governments to begin strengthening capacities for risk reduction and mitigation before the next outbreak. Particularly, to encourage prioritization of investments in emergency preparedness and response plans for effective recovery from public health events”, he concluded.

The Outbreaks and Epidemics (O&E) insurance programme of the African Risk Capacity was born in the wake of the devastating 2014 West African Ebola crisis. The lessons from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, revealed that, in addition to weaknesses in health systems, slow unpredictable funding was a major contributing factor to the inability of the Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia to rapidly respond to the initial outbreaks. Therefore, the ARC Conference of the Parties, States and African Ministers of Finance in 2015, requested for a product to address Africa’s financing needs to contain outbreaks of viruses and diseases common to the African continent, and in the event of spread or secondary transmission. 

“Establishing early warning and response surveillance platforms to address all health emergencies in a timely and effective manner towards supporting public health emergency preparedness and response are pivotal to our work”, said Dr John Nkengasong, Director, Africa CDC. “Our partnership with ARC will consolidate this effort and provide a good synergy to support Member States in health emergencies response in addition to promoting critical partnerships to address emerging and endemic diseases and other public health emergencies” 

The Africa CDC supports all African Countries to improve surveillance, emergency response, and prevention of infectious diseases. This includes addressing outbreaks, man-made and natural disasters, and public health events of regional and international concern. It further seeks to build the capacity to reduce disease burden on the continent. It is a specialised technical institution of the African Union that serves as a platform for Member States to share knowledge, exchange lessons learnt, build capacity, and provide technical assistance to each other. 

The African Risk Capacity model is an innovative, cost-effective, and is proving that it can assist Member States to strengthen their capacities to better plan, prepare and respond to extreme weather events and natural disasters, thereby achieving the food security for their populations. Since 2014, 32 policies have been signed by Member States with US$73million paid in premiums for a cumulative insurance coverage of US$553million for the protection of 55million vulnerable population in participating countries.

ARC is now using its expertise to help tackle some of the other greatest threats faced by the continent, including outbreaks and epidemics. 

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