African Countries launch program aimed at addressing health crisis

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African Map
African Map

African countries on Wednesday launched an ambitious initiative to help African countries cope with health emergencies that have escalated on the continent due to climate change.

The Health Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Resilience Program (HEPRR) project for Eastern and Southern Africa, worth 1 billion U.S. dollars, is expected to transform public health response.

Kenyan Ministry of Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha said the launch of the World Bank-backed project will strengthen the continent’s response to infectious diseases and other public health threats.

According to Nakhumicha, communicable diseases such as Ebola, Marburg, yellow fever, and chikungunya have put pressure on Africa’s health systems and compromised quality service delivery.

Nakhumicha urged governments to enhance response and resilience through public health surveillance, pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturing, and building resilience to climate-related risks.

Keith Hansen, World Bank country director for Kenya, urged African countries to redouble their efforts in preparing for disease outbreaks, adding that domestic manufacturing of vaccines will boost response to health emergencies.

Yoswa Dambisya, director-general for the East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community, said part of the funding will be used to start domestic manufacturing of vaccines on the continent.

Workneh Gebeyehu, executive secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, an East African bloc, said the initiative’s launch is timely because it will help the region recover from the negative health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gebeyehu added that the seven-year program will build on the experiences the continent has gained from fighting COVID-19, cholera, and Ebola outbreaks.

The first phase of the project, valued at 359 million U.S. dollars, will be implemented in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sao Tome and Principe, while the second phase will cover Burundi, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Malawi, while the third phase will cover Angola, Somalia, and Tanzania.

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