Southern Africa RISLNET

World Bank-Africa CDC Regional Investment Financing Project

To efficiently address public health concerns on the continent, as part of a cross-divisional collaboration, Africa CDC introduced the Regional Integrated Surveillance and Laboratory Network (RISLNET) initiative to harness the public health assets that exist in each African region to support the RCCs. The purpose of the network is to improve surveillance and control of high-priority endemic or neglected conditions by fully leveraging the capacity of existing public, private, and nonprofit laboratory networks.

This World Bank project was approved in 2020 and aims to support Africa CDC to strengthen continental and regional infectious disease detection and response systems.

A subcomponent of this project falls under the mandate of the Division of Disease Control and Prevention and, in particular, the establishment of a small number of fit-for-purpose laboratories, transnational surveillance networks, emergency-response mechanisms, and other health assets designed to manage disease risks on a regional or continental scale through the establishment of RISLNET in the Eastern and Southern African regions.

RISLNET will leverage existing regional public health assets—including the surveillance and laboratory networks operated by public agencies, private organizations, foundations, and universities—to create an integrated electronic network of regional surveillance platforms. The proposed project will finance: (i) the development of a unified information technology (IT) platform and infrastructure for connecting RCCs and NPHIs; (ii) technical workshops on selected public health challenges; (iii) transportation and processing of samples for testing at Africa CDC-affiliated laboratories in Ethiopia and Zambia; (iv) the procurement of reagents and specialized materials for sample testing; and (v) technical assistance for the operationalization of RISLNET bureaus in Eastern and Southern Africa.

The subcomponent will also support the Africa CDC in developing innovative information-sharing systems and establishing itself as a trusted source for health information through the Extension for Community Health Outcomes (ECHO) platform, which uses videoconferencing and structured case presentations to develop virtual communities of practice. This subcomponent will finance: (i) the design and development of an electronic information platform and database for disease intelligence; (ii) the implementation of an electronic distribution list to rapidly disseminate guidance to public health officials and healthcare providers on emerging threats; (iii) the development and distribution of a periodic report that provides a detailed analysis of disease trends; and (iv) the development of multimedia information products designed to increase public awareness of disease risks and recommended health practices.