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Covid-19 spurs calls for new Africa public health order

Monday December 20 2021
The coronavirus pandemic has showed the need to strengthen African public health capacities to safeguard young lives.

The coronavirus pandemic has showed the need to strengthen African public health capacities to safeguard young lives. PHOTO | FILE | NMG

Building a new efficient and strong public health order, was the key message at the inaugural international Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA 2021).

Speaking at the opening of the event held virtually, Rwanda President Paul Kagame said the uncertainty around the Omicron variant of Covid-19 was proof enough that the pandemic was far from over, thus there is a need to continue establishing capabilities and strength of continental health bodies.

Kagame underscored the importance of domestic financing. “We cannot continue to rely on external funding for something important as health, and instead invest much more in research,” he said.

He added that African leaders must invest in its health systems, its own manufacturing capability, as well as building trust on its population.

“Other than that, it is equally important to work together as a continent.”

The next pandemic

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Dr Matshidiso Moeti, Director of World Health Organisation, African region office, said in order to create health systems that are fit, there is a need to strengthen public health capacities in the region, adding that the global health regulator is committed to working with the AU and Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

“Creating a new public health order involves investment in creating resilient health systems just not for the pandemic, but also for the future,” she said, adding that data and information systems will be important moving forward.

Dr John Nkengasong, Director at Africa CDC said in order for the Africa to fight the next pandemic effectively. “As a continent we must be prepared to take our health destiny in our hands.”

Prof Agnes Binagwaho co-chair CPHIA, insisted on building research centres in Africa. While praising the response of the continent during the pandemic, she said local manufacturing of medical products is essential.

“Africa should never again be relegated at the back seat as far as medical research is concerned.”

Prof Senait Fisseha co-chair CPHIA, director of international programmes at the Susan Thompson Buffet Foundation, said the Africa’s capability in producing vaccines during the pandemic, has been as a result of investment and visionary leadership.

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