The UKHSA’s IHR Strengthening Project would like to congratulate Africa Centre for Disease Control (Africa CDC) on their 5-year Anniversary. UKHSA has worked in partnership with Africa CDC for over 3 years, and it has been amazing to see and be a part of their growth. As an organisation that started with less than 15 staff, Africa CDC has grown from being an “institute of the African Union” (AU) designed to support public health initiatives, to an established Agency to strengthen the capacity of public health institutions to detect, prevent, control and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats, as well as providing coordinated and integrated solutions to public health infrastructure, human resource capacity, disease surveillance, laboratory diagnostics, preparedness and response to health emergencies and disasters. Over the past 5 years the organisation has had significant impact on the continent with a plethora of great accomplishments – including most recently the coordination of Africa’s COVID-19 response.

The UKHSA IHR Strengthening Project has worked closely with Africa CDC during this time, with notable success and great appreciation of the partnership. Some examples of this collaboration are:

Developing an interactive online directory of emergency responders and rapid response teams for Africa CDC and AU Member States by supporting the launch of the African Volunteer Health Corps (AVoHC) whose members provide rapid and efficient response to disease outbreaks and other public health threats on the continent. This is a secure database which provided Member States with a tool to track their current and past rapid response workforce, to identify personnel for surge capacity and overall improve understanding and synergy between Member States and partners that mobilise emergency responders - encouraging uniformity, universality and exchange.  The platform was launched as of September 2020 and the first phase of roll-out and ongoing training has provided immediate benefits for managing and co-ordinating COVID-19 deployments and other disease epidemics. 

Delivering a high-level workshop focusing on behaviour change, risk communication and outbreak response in the African region to support the behavioural and psychological aspects of public health risks and major incidents. The workshop provided training on designing emergency plans, protocols and interventions for infectious disease outbreaks and communication-based interventions informed by behavioural science and gave participants the opportunity to consult with behavioural science experts on specific challenges and issues that they have faced, as well as learning from peers and colleagues.

Supporting the design, governance and evaluation of the Kofi Annan Global Health Leaders Programme (KA GHLP) to support the next generation of aspirational public health leaders (Fellows) from Africa in acquiring advanced skills and competencies to strategise, manage and lead public health programmes that will transform public health in Africa. The inaugural programme was launched with 20 fellows representing 14 African Union (AU) Member States across all five AU regions

Co-hosting Laboratory Leadership Training for Resilient National Public Health Laboratories, with delegates from 12 countries across Africa trained on the importance of strengthening leadership as a key aspect for improving health security.

UKHSA has been delighted to work with Africa CDC and looks forward to many more opportunities for collaboration in the future – working together to strengthen health security, improve public health systems and contribute to wider global health protection. A heartfelt congratulations once again!