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Africa expects upcoming FOCAC to forge new public health order : Africa CDC official

ADDIS ABABA, (The Southern African Times) – The upcoming meeting of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) would cement existing partnerships to realize Africa’s new public health order, a senior African health official has said.

“Our expectation is that when the FOCAC is meeting later this year, in terms of health security, the focus will be on partnership that is going to address the Africa CDC’s new public health order to ensure that as Africa we are better prepared in the future for any outbreak, even a pandemic, that may come onto the continent,” said Ahmed Ogwell, deputy director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), in a recent interview with Xinhua.

Against the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Africa CDC recently announced its new public health order, which is composed of four pillars, including strengthening public health institutions, strengthening public health emergency work force and expanding capacity for manufacturing necessary health products at home.

“The fourth, which is the focus of my response, is building, strengthening and expanding partnerships — partnerships that are action-oriented and respectful of Africa’s priorities,” the Africa CDC deputy chief said.

During the pandemic, China and Africa have worked quite well “in ensuring that information is flowing well between China and Africa,” he said.

“We have worked very well securing, particularly, test kits at the beginning of the pandemic, and as we built our own capacity locally, Chinese counterparts were very supportive when things were very difficult last year in starting our pandemic response on the continent,” he added.

Despite being a young organization officially launched in January 2017, the Africa CDC has been able to respond effectively to various outbreaks, including recurrent outbreaks of Ebola hemorrhagic fever and the COVID-19 pandemic, said Ogwell.

“We have been doing the work that organizations that are many, many years old are also doing, and we have been doing a very, very good job,” he said.

Ogwell further emphasized the need to bolster existing partnerships on the basis of win-win modality, aligned with Africa’s priorities and challenges concerning public health emergencies.

“We want to grow the collaboration, and we want to grow the sharing that we both learn from each other and keep this world even safer” in face of public health emergencies, Ogwell said. 

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