Southern Africa Cross-Border Public Health Emergency Management Workshop
Countries have endorsed the need for regional networking/exchange around cross-border public health emergencies. This need indicated and emphasised by global initiatives and organizations including International Health Regulations, Global Health Security Agenda, World Health Organization and the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cannot be over emphasized especially after the experiences and lessons learnt during global epidemics such as the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak, 2009 Influenza H1N1 pandemic, the 2002 SARS in Asia, and continued cholera outbreaks affecting many low to medium income countries globally. Between 2017/2018 the Southern Africa Region saw many member states affected by cholera, and other outbreaks with the potential to cross borders including Bubonic plague in Madagascar, Listeriosis in South African and Ebola Virus Disease in DRC among others
Lusaka, Zambia 20 August 2018……………………… African countries have recognized the need to shift from response dominated approach of disaster management to emergency risk management. Countries are now investing more in prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. In this regard, The Zambia National Public Health Institute, which wears an important hat as the Africa CDC Regional Collaborating Centre for Southern Africa in collaboration with the International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have organized a Public Health Emergency Management (PHEM) workshop from 20-24 August.
The workshop brings together public health representatives from the 16-member states of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) to deliberate on the various public health emergencies and the appropriate response plans. The countries attending will share the various experiences and approaches in place thus far such as use of information gained during assessment of threats and hazard in individual countries, vulnerability and risks assessment to identify common problems that can be mitigated through strong networks and partnerships. Various initiatives and approaches including cross border collaboration, information sharing platforms and joint efforts in responses will be tackled during this important workshop. The workshop aims to develop a common approach for strengthening the Southern Africa regional public health management by understanding the regional context and identifying priority actions to regional networks.
Speaking during the opening ceremony of the workshop Dr Kennedy Malama the Permanent Secretary of Health, responsible for Administration on behalf of the Minister of Health, underscored the need for countries to prepare for emergencies in advance. He said that Africa as a continent had learnt from the 2014/2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa where Africa lost 11,310 lives and up to USD 2.8 billion. “Africa is now awake and ready to take up the challenge of building strong relationships with neighboring countries to avoid a repeat of the Ebola Virus Disease and other public health threats,” he said.
In response to the Ebola pandemic, African Heads of States in 2017 established the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) a specialized technical agency of the African Union that aims to address complex health challenges, and build needed capacity by supporting African countries in their efforts to monitor the public’s health, respond to emergencies, address, the Africa CDC will help close gaps in Africa’s public health systems. Africa CDC envisions a continent where communities are prosperous, integrated, and secure, where people can feel safe to openly travel, and where Africans can lead healthier lives.
The US government through the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention remains committed to efforts of maintaining a health population. The US Ambassador to Zambia Daniel L. Foote reaffirmed this emphasizing on the need for maintaining strong cross-border relationships. He noted that diseases and other public health threats know no boundaries, so cross-border or regional collaboration is key to reducing harm. “I have confidence that this collaborative effort that brings together key partners including the World Health Organization, the Southern Africa Development Community, and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, working with organizations like the International Association of National Public Health Institutes, the global network of National Public Health Institutes and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) will strengthen public health systems in emergency preparedness and response on the continent,” he noted.
The workshop aims to develop a situational report and prioritize list of disease threats and hazards, draft framework for regional collaboration and establish plans of action to continue regional networking.
Ellen Whitney the Director of IANPHI explained that the Institute is proud to leverage their network of more than 110 members from more than 90 countries around the world to promote the importance of public health systems strengthening in the area of emergency management. “In Southern Africa, we are building upon IANPHI’s relationships with 10 of the participating countries to support cross border collaboration the Southern Africa regional network for public health emergency management,” she noted.
 The Member States represented will identify individual country status and priorities as well as regional policies and legal frameworks impacting the public health emergency management. In addition, the regional framework developed will encompass the surveillance, detection, information sharing and response for strengthening regional networks.
Shelly Bratton, Lead of National Public Health Institute Program at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that the organization has more than 75 years of experience leading public health in the United States and responding to public health emergencies at home and abroad. “We are enthusiastic about seeing cross-border collaboration strengthened in Southern Africa as a way to prevent, detect, and respond to public health threats,” she said.
Through this workshop, regional partnerships and networks for emergency preparedness and response will be fostered as well as strengthening capacity to meet International Health Regulations (IHR, 2005) obligations.
 Notes to the Editors
ZNPHI is a specialized national public health authority with a mandate to support health facilities at all levels in improving the health of the people through prevention of infection, surveillance and response to emergencies including outbreaks, mandate and natural disasters and public health events and capacity building in reducing disease burden in the country. The ZNPHI is tasked to timely detect and respond effectively to health threats and outbreaks.
About US CDC
US CDC is the leading national public health institute of the United States. The CDC is a United States federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services and is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Its main goal is to protect public health and safety through the control and prevention of disease, injury, and disability in the US and internationally. The CDC focuses national attention on developing and applying disease control and prevention. It especially focuses its attention on infectious disease, food borne pathogens, environmental health, occupational safety and health, health promotion, injury prevention and educational activities designed to improve the health of United States citizens. In addition, the CDC researches and provides information on non-infectious diseases such as obesity and diabetes and is a founding member of the International Association of National Public Health Institutes.
The International Association of National Public Health Institutes links and strengthens the government agencies responsible for public health. IANPHI improves the world’s health by leveraging the experience and expertise of its member institutes to build robust public health systems. IANPHI is the only organization that strengthens national public health institutes using an evidence-based international framework for development. Its unique peer-to-peer model, supported by targeted investments, leads to long-term national self-sufficiency. Since 2006 our investments have measurably improved capacity in 45 countries. IANPHI has 108 members from 93 countries (and growing), benefiting more than 5 billion people on 6 continents.
About Africa CDC
Africa CDC is an Africa owned Institution that aims to address priority public health concerns in Africa; primarily through prevention and, where needed, through detection and response. It also serves as a platform for Member States to share knowledge, build capacity, and provide technical assistance to each other. The Africa CDC has the legal mandate to support Member States in their capacity to respond to public health emergencies and strengthen health systems and will execute these interventions in collaboration with the Regional Collaborating Centres.
For more information Contact
Mazyanga L. Mazaba Liwewe
Head of Information Systems
Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI)
Cell: +260977879400