The proposed African Centre for Disease Control, (ACDC) must be designed as a veritable institution to strengthen and enhance health systems in the African continent and Nigeria is ready to support the initiative, Linus Awute, Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health said on Sunday at the Meeting of African Ministers of Health, on the Establishment of the African CDC, holding in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.
The Permanent Secretary further maintained that the ACDC, being envisaged as a health security tool for Africa, must be owned by the member states with support from the African Union (AU), the World Health Organization (WHO) and other development partners.
Regional centres for disease control or designated institutions selected by the various regional organisations, according to Awute, should work collaboratively and effectively with the continental centre for disease control when established.
He pointed out that regions in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have taken the initiative to set the pace by establishing its Regional Centre for Disease Control, recognizing that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control should serve as the ECOWAS Regional CDC, in recognition of Nigeria’s role in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
The Permanent Secretary assured that Nigeria was ready to share its experiences in establishing its CDC and its role in the establishment of the ECOWAS Regional CDC.
The call for an African Centre for Disease Control was formally advanced when Member States of the African Union (AU) held a Special Summit on HIV, TB and Malaria in Abuja in July 2013.
At this Summit, member states affirmed the need for an African Centre for Disease Control (ACDC).
Subsequently, the decision of the African Union: Assembly/AU/Dec.499 (XXII) adopted at the 22nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2014 stressed the urgency of establishing the African Centre for Disease Control and requested the AU Commission to submit a report to the Assembly in January 2015 that will include the legal, structural and financial implication of the establishment of the African CDC.
In January 2015, the African Union Assembly, in its decision of Assembly/AU/Dec.554 (XXIV) officially endorsed the establishment of the Africa CDC with the responsibility of promoting the prevention and control of diseases in Africa.
The African CDC is also expected to serve as a platform for member states to share knowledge, exchange lessons learned, build capacity and provide technical assistance to one another.
Although the African CDC was conceptualized prior to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the response to the scourge of the Ebola epidemic heightened the need of a continental public health agency.
This consequently resulted in African Ministers of Health convening in Malabo, Equatorial on July 19, 2015 to deliberate on the draft plan for the implementation and takeoff of the African CDC formulated by experts who had met earlier.
The African Health Ministers during the meeting, expressed various shade of opinions, however, central to the debate was that African countries must take ownership of the ACDC.
Some of the concerns raised centered on the roles of the African CDC and WHO and how to avoid duplication of functions in the face the existing public health protocols under disease emergencies of a pandemic nature.