‘Team Europe’ Agreements Boost Africa’s Pandemic Preparedness
Stella Kyriakides, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, at the AU-EU meeting in Addis Ababa.

Europe’s Health Emergency Response Agency (HERA) has pledged €6 million to assist the  Africa Centre for Disease Control (ACDC) to scale up sequence-based disease surveillance and laboratory capacity on the continent.

This was announced by Stella Kyriakides, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, at the start of a three-day meeting between the African Union and the European Union in Addis Ababa on Monday to address health and humanitarian issues.

Belgium’s development agency has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the ACDC aimed at strengthening Africa’s pandemic preparedness, said Caroline Gennez, Belgian Minister of Development Cooperation and Major Cities.

Belgium holds the EU presidency and one of its aims to accelerate equal access to health and strengthen the Africa-EU partnership on Global Health. 

To this end, Belgium is hosting a high-level event on health with the African Union on 20 March.

Africa CDC Deputy Director General Dr Ahmed Ouma welcomed the agreements, saying that they would improve global health security by “building [African] countries’ capacity to detect and respond to health emergencies”.

The agreements focus on three main issues, he added: supporting Africa CDC’s role as the continent’s health implementer, the growing resistance to antibiotics, and building the continent’s One Health capabilities. This is particularly crucial on a continent with a high level of zoonotic diseases.

Kyriakides said that “when it comes to health, there are no continents and borders”.

She added that Africa was a “key priority” for the EU.

Gennez said that the pandemic accord negotiations at World Health Organization (WHO) were a recognition that “all big challenges are global”.

“Team Europe supports the decentralisation of vaccine and medicine production,” added Gennez.

Meanwhile, Minata Samate Cessouma, the African Union’s Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, said that the meeting would also discuss cooperation on Africa’s humanitarian needs, especially in the Horn of Africa.

“Climate change is now starting to displace more people than conflicts now,” Cessouma noted.

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