African Civil Society Groups Launch New Alliance to Combat Pandemics and Climate Change
RANA executive director Aggrey Aluso and Pandemic Action Network executive director Eloise Todd.

LUSAKA, Zambia — A new African civil society network to address pandemics and climate crises was introduced publicly on Wednesday on the sidelines of the Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA). The Resilience Action Network Africa (RANA) has been established by over 30 African organizations that are part of the global Pandemic Action Network (PAN), which was formed during COVID-19.

“This journey started a long time ago,” RANA executive director Aggrey Aluso told Health Policy Watch. “The voices of the global South and the concerns of low- and middle-income countries, particularly in Africa, do not inform global policies. But ‘the people who wear the shoe know where it pinches most.’”

The resilience agenda has come to characterise Africa’s challenges, including surging climate change challenges, disease outbreaks, gender inequality, food insecurity, and financial instability, Aluso explained.

“If we continue to address these challenges in isolated silos, we will not be strong enough,” Aluso said.

At the heart of RANA’s strategy to dismantle these silos is a collaboration with the Pandemic Action Network (PAN). Leveraging PAN’s proven track record in networked advocacy for pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response, the partnership will adopt a “whole-of-society” approach to bridging policy gaps at the national and regional levels in Africa, while empowering local institutions and agencies to bolster health systems.

RANA’s partnership with PAN seeks to establish connections between pandemic issues and advocates and networks across the resilience agenda, encompassing gender, climate, finance, food systems, health, and nature. RANA’s affiliates are primarily engaged in pandemic and climate threats, gender and debt.

RANA is more than 30 civil society partners (CSO) strong, and growing — including those representing the gender, climate, finance, food systems, health, and nature agendas.

“The idea is that PAN and RANA will work really closely in the pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, and climate and health crisis space,” PAN executive director Eloise Todd told Health Policy Watch. “We will basically work in lock-step to ensure that community voices and African countries are presented in global processes.” 

“If you think about the INB [Intergovernmental Negotiating Body] negotiating the pandemic treaty, for example, we want to make sure that we insert the voices of the low and middle-income countries,” said Todd. “We want to do that more deliberately and invest more to have this separate, independent entity and really walk the walk and take our lead from an independent, partnered organisation.”

One of RANA’s first campaigns is to advocate for African leaders to commit to an agenda for pandemic action. This includes calling on African countries to allocate long-term domestic financing to “close critical pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response funding gaps in Africa”; to expand the local production of health products including diagnostics, medicines and vaccines; and to make African health systems gender-responsive, and pandemic and climate-resilient.

These demands are part of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s (Africa CDC) Africa’s New Public Health Order, a long-term vision for a more resilient, inclusive, and equitable African public health system.

“Humanity is facing two major existential threats: climate change and pandemics. These global threats are highly interconnected, and their risk to lives, livelihoods, human progress, and human rights is growing,” said Todd. “We must shift our policy thinking and our investments to strengthen the resilience of our countries, our communities, and our people.”

Aluso, who will continue to serve as PAN’s Africa Director and Global Policy Lead, said that the multiple crises “require bold thinking, bold collaboration, and bold action”.

“Our vision is a resilient and healthy Africa, safeguarded by African-led solutions, informed by African needs, and driven by African leadership,” he said.

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