Addis Ababa, 16 March 2018 -The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and Virology Education brought together public health experts across the globe to discuss the increased threats posed by emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. In 2007, WHO warned that infectious diseases are emerging at a rate that has not been seen before. These infections are a serious threat to global health security. To accelerate ongoing efforts African Heads of State and Government issued a Declaration on 3 July 2017 to commit to the implementation of International Health Regulations (IHR) as a means to safeguard Africa’s health security and protect economic growth. The IHR (2005) is a legally binding instrument adopted by 196 WHO Member States that sets requirements for each to prepare for health emergencies of all types.
‘We are charting a new public health architecture and order to address Africa’s health security agenda and laying a solid foundation to have adequate capacity to deal with the threat of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. African Heads of State and Government committed to accelerate the implementation of IHR at national, provincial and local levels with a clear roadmap and monitoring mechanisms. Agenda 2063’s path towards inclusive growth and structural transformation can only be achieved if public health capabilities are strengthened, with national public health institutes as the drivers for implementation’ said Dr. John Nkengasong, the Director of the Africa CDC and Co-Chair of the conference.
In Africa, emerging and re-emerging infectious disease threats are being driven by many factors: weak health systems; huge population growth expected to reach 2.5 billion by 2050; rapid urbanisation; expansive mobility of people across and beyond the continent; climate change fuelled by global warming, desertification and destruction of rain forests; and increased interaction between animals and humans. During the meeting experts discussed ways to address threats that emerging infectious diseases pose to global health security, strengthening disease intelligence. They also discussed how to attract, and maintain early career professionals and underrepresented talents. The meeting had various sessions: emerging infections in Africa and globally, new diagnostics to respond to outbreaks, fast tracking vaccines for epidemics, managing infectious diseases, innovations for control and financial aspects of outbreak management.
‘Each country’s ability to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats directly protects national and global security. To address the threat of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, we need to work together across animal, human and environmental health. “An infectious disease outbreak anywhere can be a threat everywhere” said Professor Charles Boucher of the Erasmus Medical Centre and Co-Chair of the Conference.
The International Conference on (Re-) Emerging Infectious Diseases (ICREID) is a global platform that brings together experts from around the world involved in emerging diseases in an interactive conference setting. In line with the Global Health Security Agenda and IHR, this meeting serves as a catalyst to safeguard global health security by responding and preventing acute public health threats and improving patient outcomes.
In January 2017, the African Union strengthened its health architecture by launching the Africa CDC and its Regional Collaborating Centre in each of the five AU regions. Since then, the Africa CDC is in partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other public health stakeholders strengthening National Public Health Institutes. The Africa CDC’s recently established Regional Integrated Surveillance and Laboratory Networks (RISLNET) aims to harness the full public health assets in each region and enhance the capacity of national Ministries of Health and reference laboratories to detect, rapidly respond, and prevent infectious diseases. The Africa CDC has also launched the Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Network to fight antibiotic resistance across Africa; established rapid response surge teams at different levels to respond to outbreaks timeously and efficiently; and responded, in partnership with WHO and other public health stakeholders various across the continent.