The Africa Centre for Disease Control (Africa CDC) said the African continent is faced with syndemics, a combination of emerging infectious diseases, which are increasing the disease burden across the continent.
This was revealed by the Director, Africa CDC, John Nkengasong in Abuja on Wednesday during day two of the Nigerian Conference of Applied and Field Epidemiology, (NiCAFE), 2021, themed ‘Building Back Better: COVID-19 and other disease outbreaks’.
The conference, organized by the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) is aimed at strengthening the country’s preparedness for emergencies in infection outbreaks.
“The African continent as a whole faces what we call a syndemics; a combination of emerging infectious diseases. We are dealing with this pandemic, but there will be another pandemic.
“Syndemics are exacerbating the disease burden across Africa. Emerging diseases, non-communicable disease/ injuries/ maternal and neonatal conditions; and endemic diseases, ex HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria” he explained.
On the role of regional health institutions in the prevention, detection and response to infectious disease outbreaks, Mr. Nkengasong disclosed that if the continent had been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2020, there wouldn’t have been a single country with the equipment to test for the virus.
He stated that the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic and response in the continent, coordination and collaboration is vital for Africa’s approach with a critical role for National Public Health Institutes (NPHIs) in pandemic preparedness and response.
In addition, he said the development of continent specific guidelines and continental political leadership to guide the pandemic response were necessary, adding that there is an urgent need for the development of Africa’s public health work force in terms of local diagnostic manufacturing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), therapeutics and medical equipment and vaccine-related innovations.
The director further cited the need to have a new public health order for the continent to tackle infectious diseases’ threats, based on specific guidelines.
“Public health is about the pathogen, the population, the politics and the policy. Regional collaboration and cooperation is, therefore, crucial as this is the backbone of health security in Africa,” he added.