A Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) signed today by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, M.B. Ch.B., chairperson of the African Union Commission, formalizes a collaboration between the African Union Commission and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in creating the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (African CDC).
“The West African Ebola epidemic reaffirmed the need for a public health institute to support African ministries of health and other health agencies in their efforts to prevent, detect, and respond to any disease outbreak,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “This memorandum solidifies the commitment by the United States to advance public health across Africa and global health security.”
The need for an African CDC was recognized at the African Union Special Summit on HIV and AIDS, TB, and Malaria in Abuja in July 2013. The concept has since moved through various stages of development, stakeholder review, and approval. The African CDC is slated to launch later this year with the establishment of an African Surveillance and Response Unit, which will include an Emergency Operations Center.
“The African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (African CDC) will help African countries effectively monitor public health, respond to public health emergencies, address complex health challenges, and build needed capacity,” Dr. Dlamini-Zuma said.
The African CDC Surveillance and Response Unit will provide technical expertise and response coordination during emergencies. Through the AU Support for Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA) mission, the African Union sent over 800 medical volunteers and public health responders to fight the Ebola epidemic in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone from September 2014 to February 2015. With the African CDC in place, these volunteers and others can be organized to form a deployable force ready to serve Member States during future health emergency responses on the continent.