Africa Maps Out New Global Health Landscape at CPHIA 2023

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African leaders, scientists, researchers, and innovators convened at the 2023 Conference on Public Health in Africa, where strategic measures were deliberated to reposition the continent within the global health architecture. The event, themed “Breaking Barriers: Repositioning Africa in the Global Health Architecture,” hosted by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), unfolded a roadmap for a new public health order.

The four-day conference, running from November 27 to 30, emerged as a nexus for cutting-edge research and innovations. Stakeholders explored African-led solutions to public health challenges, focusing on a holistic understanding of health that spans medical science, policy, equity, and global cooperation.

Africa CDC’s Director-General, Dr. Jean Kaseya, emphasized the need to transcend traditional healthcare models. “Breaking barriers requires us to think beyond the confines of traditional healthcare models,” he asserted. The five principles of community, connectivity, capacity, collaboration, and climate were highlighted as guiding lights for repositioning Africa.

Kaseya spotlighted the importance of resilient communities, citing Africa’s pressing need to address the alarming maternal mortality rates. The scarcity of community health workers emerged as a critical issue, emphasizing the urgency to standardize and remunerate these essential workers. He underlined that Africa witnesses two new outbreaks per week, 75% of which are zoonotic and exacerbated by climate change.

Connectivity, according to Kaseya, is crucial for bridging geographical gaps and enhancing knowledge exchange. Less than 10% of African countries can respond to major outbreaks with a skilled health workforce, underscoring the imperative to strengthen medical manufacturing capabilities for self-reliance.

Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, expressed confidence in Africa playing a pivotal role in the future of global health. He stressed the need for political will to break barriers and achieve significant strides.

Zambia’s President, Hakainde Hichilema, emphasized collaboration as fundamental to building a resilient public health system. “The conference is unique because it talks about health from a holistic point. Health for one, health for families, health for countries, and health for all,” he remarked.

Professor Margaret Gyapong, CPHIA 2023 Co-Chair, highlighted Africa’s leap in health technology innovations. From mobile health applications to telemedicine platforms, technology is addressing healthcare access gaps. She emphasized the need for concerted efforts to scale up successful interventions across the continent, promoting collaboration and widespread access to life-saving innovations.

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