The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation (STBF) has awarded a grant of US$11.5 million to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) to strengthen sexual and reproductive health services in Africa.
During public health emergencies, African countries often face the dilemma of responding to outbreaks to save lives while at the same time struggling to allocate resources to other healthcare services. Since the onset of the COVID-19, African Union Member States have channeled a greater proportion of their resources to responding to the pandemic with very little or nothing available for other healthcare services such as sexual and reproductive health. This could increase the burden of disease in the continent and cause unacceptably high maternal and child mortality.
“Any disease outbreak of this magnitude disrupts traditional vertical programmes, including maternal and child health, and this causes serious problems within the already weak health systems. Healthcare workforce is very important, and Africa must find ways to strengthen its workforce,” said Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC.
This grant by the Susan Buffet Foundation is in addition to a US$5 million grant already awarded to Africa CDC to support its continent-wide response to COVID-19. The grant will help strengthen public health workforce across Africa to safeguard sexual and reproductive health and rights services especially during public health emergencies. It will enable Africa CDC to accelerate implementation of some aspects of its framework for public health workforce development through the Kofi Annan Global Health Leadership Programme and through direct support for capacity building in maternal and reproductive health epidemiology.
Africa CDC is currently leading a “New Public Health Order” in Africa that emphasizes public health workforce development, investment in local manufacturing of medical products, partnerships, and strengthening of National Public Health Institutes so that the continent can effectively respond to the present and future public health crises.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc globally, Africa needs urgent actions to address its sexual and reproductive health needs and increase reproductive choices across the continent. The grant by Susan Buffet Foundation is timely and will help address some of the pressing needs,” said Dr Tajudeen Raji, Head of Public Health Institutes and Research at Africa CDC.