Pathogen genomics (harnessing genetic information of pathogens for enhanced disease epidemiology) is revolutionizing public health through early outbreak detection, enhanced disease surveillance, monitoring drug resistance, assessing the impact of infection prevention and control (IPC) programmes, and many other critical disease control activities. However, while there is considerable interest in pathogen genomics among public health institutions, there are substantial barriers to its implementation in Africa. Africa CDC is supporting a continental coordinated approach to address these challenges and maximize the benefits of new technologies for more effective disease prevention and control in Africa.
The Africa CDC Pathogen Genomics Intelligence Institute (PGII) was established to support public health pathogen genomics and bioinformatics activities in Africa. The vision of the institute is deeply rooted in the Africa CDC mission to support Member States in strengthening health systems and institutions for improved prevention, detection, and response to public health threats.
PGII Strategic Priorities
1. Governance and enabling mechanisms for public health pathogen genomics in Africa. The institute:
- Facilitates the development and adoption of standards and policies for generating and sharing pathogen genomic data for public health use, ethical data sharing, biobanking, biological specimens transfer, and networking to leverage continental capacities;
- Convenes meetings and facilitates the creation of functional technical working groups to enhance the use of pathogen genomics in addressing public health priorities and needs;
- Strengthens collaboration within and between NPHIs, academia, and industry;
- Supports sequencing and bioinformatic infrastructure development at selected sites in collaboration with partners; and
- Facilitates training of technicians, laboratory staff, bioinformaticians, and molecular epidemiologists to integrate genomics into disease control and elimination programmes.
2. Mapping the landscape of pathogen genomics in Africa. To support efficient use of existing capacities, PGII identifies existing institutional capacities and assesses additional capacities needed to leverage and strengthen regional pathogen genomics laboratories and networks.
3. Facilitate the implementation of demonstration programmes. PGII facilitates key demonstration programmes to build evidence for the scalable and sustainable application of pathogen genomics and pathways of integration into public health practice in Africa.
PGII leverages existing infrastructure in Africa and links these assets with the Africa CDC coordinating platforms, i.e. its five RCCs, RISLNET and Member States NPHIs. Technical assistance is delivered through the five strategic pillars of Africa CDC: surveillance & disease intelligence, emergency preparedness and response, laboratory systems and networks, information systems, and public health research.