U.S. to Help in Launching African CDC

The African CDC will be a public health institute supporting the whole continent of Africa

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, M.B. Ch.B., chairperson of the African Union Commission, signed an agreement April 13 in Washington, D.C., that formalizes a collaboration between the commission and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to create the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention will help African countries effectively monitor public health, respond to public health emergencies, address complex health challenges, and build needed capacity," said Dr. Dlamini-Zuma.

The African CDC Surveillance and Response Unit, to be established later this year, will include an Emergency Operations Center and will provide technical expertise and response coordination during such emergencies. Through the AU Support for Ebola Outbreak in West Africa mission, the African Union sent more than 800 medical volunteers and public health responders to fight the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone from September 2014 to February 2015, according to CDC's news release about the signing. When the African CDC is in place, those volunteers and others can be organized to form a deployable force ready to serve Member States during future health emergency responses.

"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 Dr. Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. "This memorandum solidifies the commitment by the United States to advance public health across Africa and global health security."

CDC's release said the need for an African CDC was recognized at the African Union Special Summit on HIV and AIDS, TB, and Malaria in July 2013.

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