EU, AU Sign Agreement to Strengthen Public Health Response in Africa

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The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, on Tuesday, signed a new partnership to strengthen the capacity of the Africa CDC to prepare for and respond to public health threats in Africa.

The four-year project, ‘EU for health security in Africa: ECDC for Africa CDC’, funded by the European Union, will also facilitate harmonised surveillance and disease intelligence, and support the implementation of the public health workforce strategy of Africa CDC.

In a statement released today by the EU, the Commission Vice-President, Margaritis Schinas, said, “The coronavirus pandemic has shown more clearly than ever that health security – a longstanding objective in the cooperation between the African Union and the European Union – must remain a global priority.

“The new partnership between the European Centre of Disease Prevention and Control and the Africa CDC is a crucial step to achieve this common goal. We are acting now, together, to end this crisis and be prepared for future outbreaks. Our AU-EU Commission-to-Commission meeting in February was instrumental in reinforcing the prospects of our cooperation that is now bearing fruit.”

Also, Commissioner for Social Affairs, African Union Commission, Amira Mohammed, said, “As a continent, we recognise the socioeconomic impact that disease outbreaks have had on our people. We know that fighting COVID-19 in Africa is not only about saving lives today, but about the future of the continent, it is about strengthening our health systems to better support preparedness and response to health emergencies in the future.

“This funding by the EU comes at a very good time and will go a long way in supporting capacity building of our public health institutions and experts.”

The statement further stated that through the partnership, Africa CDC and ECDC will be able to exchange experiences and lessons learnt from working with African and European Member States on the continental harmonised surveillance of infectious diseases, data sharing, and early detection of threats, as well as on preparedness, risk assessment, rapid response, and emergency operations, and on how to adapt these to their needs.

“Funded under the European Development Fund, the project includes a contribution agreement with ECDC of €9 million and a complementary grant to Africa CDC of €1 million to cover staffing costs. This agreement will come into effect on 1 January 2021,” the statement added.