Hot topics in health: Africa announces plans for continent-wide CDC

Hot topics in health: Africa announces plans for continent-wide CDC

Public relations is a field as much concerned with reacting to situations as it is with creating content. In the case of the former, PR decisions and actions can be heavily influenced by different catalysts — i.e. a PR crisis in the form of a controversial post on social media — that set up the opportunity, if not the necessity, to respond.

 

This reactionary approach is as prevalent in the world of healthcare as it is in the world of PR, as health officials and medical practitioners must always be prepared to respond accordingly in the case of unexpected medical crisis. The most recent example? Africa’s decision to establish a continent-wide Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention.

 

The concept of creating an African CDC was initially proposed back in 2013 at the African Union Special Summit on HIV and AIDS, Tuberculosism and Malaria in Nigeria. However, it is likely in response to the recent Ebola epidemic that the proposal has now been approached with heightened urgency and led to a firm decision to set the plan into motion.

 

John Kerry and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma shake hands at CDC agreement meeting.

U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, and chairperson of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, formalized the agreement to establish an African CDC on Monday (Alex Wong/Getty Images via npr.org)

While the African CDC will have its central office located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — the city is also home of the African Union — it will also have five regional offices located throughout the continent in cities yet to be determined.

 

The ultimate goal of the African CDC, which the 54 member states of the African Union will be responsible for funding, is to serve as an organization that builds on different healthcare agencies and institutions across the continent.

 

According to Dr. Thomas Kenyon, director of the U.S. CDC’s Center for Global Health, there is already a certain level of disease surveillance and emergency dispatching taking place in the region. The African CDC will simply fill a gap by adding to existing structures and helping link them to one another so that they may act more efficiently and effectively in conjunction with one another.

 

It will be interesting to see how plans for the African CDC pan out in the coming months; their successful implementation will largely be dependent on a number of factors throughout the continent, including political and cultural influences that may come into play. However, if successful, the African CDC will essentially serve as a connecting force for all African nations in the movement towards transforming disease detection and prevention in Africa.

 

What do you think of Africa’s decision to finally get started on plans to establish an African CDC? How much do you think an organization like this will reshape the face of healthcare in Africa? Share your thoughts below or tweet me @tamarahoumi

Tamara Rahoumi

Tamara Rahoumi is a third-culture kid of Egyptian descent who was born and raised in New Jersey. She loves experiencing new things, and is in a constant state of wanderlust. She has spent a year studying in Switzerland and another teaching in Albania. Tamara graduated from Rutgers University, where she studied political science and cultural anthropology. She reports on a variety of stories for MUIPR. Follow Tamara on twitter @tamarahoumi.

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