President Hakainde Hichilema has implored the Africa Union member States to urgently address the need to strengthen public health emergency operation centres in order to respond quickly to health threats.
President Hichilema observed that many African countries lack emergency coordination structures and capacity to anticipate and provide a timely response towards any disease or health threat as it were, which is not good for the continent.
President Hichilema noted that a disease outbreak or health challenge requires rapid response but observed that most often the health systems and administrations have split responsibilities and personnel that are adequately linked and coordinated when faced with emergencies.
Speaking during the Africa Centre for Disease Control and prevention high level side event at Mulungushi International Conference Centre, Kenneth Kaunda Wing, President Hichilema stated that the matter requires urgent attention.
He urged various governments to set the tone clear as can be leant from the effects and impacts of COVID-19 both on people’s lives and economies.
“It is my hope that this side event will achieve its objectives as set out, as individual member states and collectively set ourselves out into a cause of better preparedness when we are faced with such a situation,” President Hichilema indicated.
The Head of State called on member countries to act in unison in order to contribute solutions to global emergency challenges and not be presenting inadequacies’ that usually require others to solve.
He said Africa has a primary responsibility to deal with its own challenges, hence the event was timely to produce fruitful results.
AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamati said the previous years presented challenges for Africa not only because of the COVID-19 pandemic but also because of the challenges faced by the fragile health systems on the continent.
Mr. Mahamati explained that the AU learnt important lessons to improve the health systems and strengthen the way in which member states can work together.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic alone pushed an estimated 55 million Africans into extreme poverty, impacting on economic growth and progress.
Mr. Mahamati disclosed that the work of the Africa CDC is one of the AU key institutions that is relied upon to deliver on the vision of agenda 2063.
“You will recall your excellencies that the lesson we learnt in preparing for and responding to disease threats on the continent led us to device a new way for Africa to ensure our health security imbedded in Africa’s new public health order and calls upon all of us to support the AU and Africa CDC to successfully implement this vision,” Mr. Mahamati noted.
He was happy that Zambia hosts one of the regional operations of Africa CDC, a contribution and commitment to the efforts of the AU in continuation of its work.
The event carried the theme strengthening Public Health Emergency Operation Centres (PHEOC) in Africa, a call to action, hosted in Zambia with support from the Africa CDC and prevention.