MONICA KAYOMBO, Lusaka
AFRICAN Heads of State and experts convened virtually for the first international Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA-2021).
The three-day conference which started yesterday and ends today is historic in that it seeks to address the latest COVID-19 research and learning as the world grapples with the emergence of omicron.
In a statement issued on Tuesday from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia by Communication and Media Engagement, Centre for Diseases Control and Prévention (CDC) Africa, Nekerwon Gweh, the meeting was opened with over 10, 000 participants from 140 countries around the world.
‘’CPHIA 2021 comes at a critical time for Africa and the world. COVID-19 has strained health systems globally, and with dangerously limited access to vaccines across Africa, it has laid bare deep inequities in access to healthcare and scientific innovations,’’ the statement read in part.
For the next two days, CPHIA will feature seven scientific plenaries and eight parallel sessions, and more than 40 side events that focus on the main pillars of the African Union’s (AU) New Public Health Order to meet the aspirations of ‘Agenda 2063, the Africa we Want’.
“Africa has some of the most sophisticated research institutions and talented scientists in the world, who have been closely monitoring COVID-19 and rapidly sharing their knowledge,” said CPHIA 2021 Co-Chair and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Global Health Equity, Professor Agnes Binagwaho. “CPHIA 2021 will provide the platform to both highlight their incredible contributions and allow for strengthened collaboration across sectors so we can better respond to current and future health crises and achieve health equity.”
Among other things, CPHIA 2021 seeks to expand and strengthen African manufacturing of vaccine, diagnostics, and therapeutics, strengthened public health institutions for people-centered care, strengthened public health workforce, respectful action-oriented partnerships; and engagement with the private sector.
The Presidents expected to speak at the event are Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chairperson of the AU, Paul Kagame of Rwanda; and Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat.
The programme will include presentations from South African health experts who have been leading research into the Omicron variant, including Director, Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation in South Africa Prof. Tulio de Oliveira, Virologist at University of Witwatersrand Prof. Penny Moore and Director, Center for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa Prof. Salim Abdool Karim.