Supporting Capacity Building Efforts To Help Africa Cope With Health Threats

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
April 14, 2015
Aid workers rest at the Bong County Ebola Treatment Unit [USAID Photo]

In the past year, leaders inside and outside Africa have been tested by the Ebola outbreak. The crisis is not over -- vigilance remains absolutely essential. 

That is why this week Secretary Kerry AU Commission Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) in support of the African Union’s plan to establish an African version of the American Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

In remarks at the MOC signing, Secretary Kerry emphasized his hope that the worst of the Ebola crises is behind us and lauded the response of the international community, particularly the African Union. “Early on, the African Union deployed medical personnel and helped to coordinate a very effective response. President Obama dispatched 3,000 American troops to build treatment centers and assist in training health workers. And all told, my government contributed more than $1 billion to ease the crisis, and today we continue working closely with all the parties.”

Secretary Kerry continued, “My country’s CDC was created 70 years ago in response to an epidemic of malaria. An African counterpart is already clearly needed, not just because of Ebola, but to cope with health threats of every kind and to enable countries throughout the region to share information and build the capacity to prevent, detect, and treat outbreaks of epidemic disease."

Under the new memorandum, the United States' CDC will provide expert technical help to support a surveillance and response unit, an emergency operations center, and to provide fellowships for African epidemiologists who will provide their services to the newly created African Center in Addis Ababa. 

Secretary Kerry underscored the need for peace and democratic institutions in the region to allow for effective health initiatives, saying “....economic, social, and health initiatives don’t operate in a vacuum. They are closely related to the quality of governance and to growth of strong, democratic institutions. That's why we have to do all that we can in the next years in order to make sure that the two dozen elections that are scheduled across Africa are conducted freely, fairly, peacefully, and on time.”

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Blaise B.
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April 15, 2015
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