First Progress Report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the Africa Center for Disease Control
- This report is submitted as a follow-up to the pledges I made during the Joint African Union (AU) Commission – Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) Retreat, held in Cairo, Egypt, from 10 to 11 December 2017, and the interaction I had with the PRC on 7 March 2018. The report covers issues relating to the establishment and governance structure of the Africa Centre for Disease Control (Africa CDC), as well as the activities undertaken, including challenges encountered. It concludes with recommendations on the way forward.
II. OVERVIEW OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH CHALLENGES IN AFRICA
Africa is facing a triple burden of disease, namely, communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria; non-communicable diseases; injuries and trauma. Public health events like the West Africa Ebola Virus Disease outbreak, which claimed over 11,000 African lives (20142016), cholera outbreaks, which have affected southern, central, and eastern Africa in recent years, and other natural disasters, such as the devastating mudslide in Sierra Leone, in which over 1000 people died (2017), are pressing concerns. In the first three months of 2018, 43 ongoing outbreaks occurring on the African continent have been reported by the World Health Organization. In 2016, over 1 million new HIV infections were diagnosed in Africa. Each of these diseases or events impact significant numbers of Africans, have the potential to reverse fragile economic gains (the Ebola outbreak resulted in USD 2.2 billion in gross domestic product losses for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone), and may ultimately become global security threats.
Globally, the emergence and re-emergence of infectious diseases with pandemic potential is gaining widespread attention. Over the past three and half decades, at least 30 new infectious agents affecting humans have emerged, most of which are zoonotic. The origins of these agents have been shown to correlate significantly with socioeconomic, environmental, and ecological factors, particularly trends in urbanization and population growth (Africa’s population is expected to increase from 1.2 billion to 2.4 billion people by the year 2050). Additionally, the widespread use of medications has created an enormous threat due to emerging antimicrobial resistance.
Agenda 2063 emphasizes the need to view health as a development issue if the continent is to prosper and achieve its objective (Aspiration 1, Goal 3) that citizens are healthy, well-nourished and have long lives. The Africa Health Strategy (AHS 2016-2030), an overarching framework that guides Member State implementation of health policies. The strategy highlights Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention role in disease prevention, surveillance, emergency preparedness and response.