The Continent has embarked on a journey to strengthen its response to public health emergencies following the launch of the Africa CDC Eastern African Regional Collaborating Center in Nairobi.  The center, a brain child of African Union member states was officially launched Friday,by Health Cabinet Secretary Senator Mutahi Kagwe.

“Today’s launch represents a new frontier for Eastern Africa Nations in the fight against emerging and re-emerging long-standing healthcare threats. Kenya is very proud to have been identified to host this center on behalf of the region.  We shall play our part as a people and a country to ensure this collaboration center succeeds for our common good.’’ Observed the Health Cabinet Secretary.

The center is expected to enhance the capacity, capabilities and partnerships of Africa’s public health institutions to detect and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats and outbreaks in the continent.

Commissioner for Health Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development at the African Union Commission (AUC)H.E Amira Elfadil speaking at the launch, said the center will be instrumental in enhancing knowledge sharing following lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will continue to support all member states of the African Union to prevent and protect against any future pandemics and to build the health capacity of the region”. She remarked.

Africa CDC Director Dr. John Nkengasong addressing the forum, said the continent finds itself in a difficult position owing to the outbreak of the pandemic. He called for the redesigning of health security apparatus at the global level to the national level.He emphasized time had come for a new public health order.

“The COVID – 19 pandemic has taught us three lessons. One, that we are more connected than everyone thought we were. We are more connected regardless of whether you are living in the global Northor global South,we are more vulnerable and the inequities that exist between countries and regions are so profound.” Dr. Nkengasong told the forum.

Additionally, the meeting discussed ways to finance the center, ensure proper governance and continued political goodwill to ensure it achieves its goal.

“Africa must begin to look inwards and not outwards for the survival of its institutions,’’said CS Kagwe during a plenary session. His sentiments were echoed by Health Ministers from the East Africa region, who called for enhanced financial investments within the continent towards health care.

The East Africa regional center is expected to work with National Public Health Institutes (NPHI) in the respective countries for proper coordination, communication and cooperation. The five Africa CDC regional collaboration centers were created by African Union Heads of States and Governments to transcend the borders and bring into reality an “Africa CDC without walls” that support the continent at the point of need.

The centers are based in Central Africa(Gabon), East Africa (Kenya), Southern Africa (Zambia), Western Africa (Nigeria) and North Africa (Egypt).