Africa CDC playing a major role during the COVID-19 crisis

Non-Aligned Movement has expressed its concern over the rapid spread of the COVID-19, which poses a major challenge to humanity. On May 4, 2020, a NAM Summit was held in the format of a videoconference in a bid to boost coordination among member states in fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat also participated in the virtual Summit and said African countries were ready for cooperation in the fight against the virus.

Africa is particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 crisis. As per the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Africa faces a dual public health and economic crisis that risks overwhelming healthcare systems, destroying livelihoods, and slowing the region’s growth prospects for years to come. The African Union has taken measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 crisis in African countries. In this context, the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) is playing a major role.

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 the inadequacies in their public health infrastructure, 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 the principles of leadership, credibility, ownership, delegated authority, timely dissemination of information, and transparency in carrying out its day-to-day activities. The institution serves as a platform for Member States to share and exchange knowledge and lessons from public health intervention.Since February 2020, Africa CDC has been deploying experts to support response to the COVID-19 at its headquarters and in some Member State. In February 2020, Africa CDC established the Africa Task Force for Novel Coronavirus (AFCOR), to oversee preparedness and response to the global epidemic of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) disease. The Task Force will support pan-African cooperation and African leadership in sharing information and best practices, building technical capacity, making high-quality policy decisions, and coordinating detection and control at borders.

The African Union Commission and Africa CDC have launched the Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT): Trace, Test & Track (CDC-T3). The partnership aims to facilitate the implementation of the Africa Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19, endorsed by African Ministers of Health on 22 February 2020 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and approved by the Bureau of the Assembly of the African Union Heads of State and Government on 26 March 2020. Driven by the principles of cooperation, coordination, collaboration and communication, the goal of the continental strategy is to prevent severe illness and death from COVID-19 infection in African Union Member States and minimize social disruption and the economic consequences of COVID-19.

Africa CDC has also partnered with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to establish a joint program in the following areas: regional coordination and building of synergies; socio-economic, health, governance and political impact assessments; capacity building and knowledge sharing; and risk communication strategies and sensitization campaigns.

In May 2020, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) in collaboration with the Operations Division of the African Union Peace and Security Department (PSD) successfully deployed 28 frontline COVID-19 responders from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Mali and Niger. Africa CDC is working with all affected countries and is mobilizing laboratory, surveillance, and other response support where requested and is also supporting Member States to conduct training for infection prevention and control. Zimbabwe, South Sudan and Cameroon have been the beneficiaries of the country training programs.

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