The 5th edition of the Africa Health Agenda International Conference (AHAIC) has opened in Kigali with a call to governments and stakeholders to invest in climate change mitigation, environmental protection, and resilient health services to prevent future pandemics on the continent.
The call was made this March 6, 2023, by Rwanda’s Minister of Health Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana who officially opened the three-day conference to bring together Africa’s top opinion leaders, politicians, researchers, and civil society to dialogue and take action to integrate the climate discourse into health policy conversations.
AHAIC 2023 comes at the backdrop of renewed calls by African leaders for more urgent action against climate change as its impacts continue to be acutely felt on the continent, especially after COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Nsanzimana said that another pandemic is not very far from any time soon and this should not find the world unprepared but instead use lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic to prepare.
“Our success relies on our renewed focus on epidemiology in public health in Africa. As public health professionals, we have a unique opportunity to get to the root of our communities and identify and address potential public health threats such as disease outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics,” Nsanzimana said.
Dr. Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, Acting Director, Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that while Africa remains cautiously optimistic about its ability to prevent and withstand the next global pandemic, this cannot happen without solution and needs- based investments on the continent.
“We find it necessary to address the shared health threats in Africa and beyond more holistically. We must incorporate a one health approach in how we strategies for and manage our disease prevention and control and hope others will do likewise,” Ouma said.
He suggested cross sector collaboration and use of covid-19 lessons to start investing adequately in the health system itself, workforces, preparedness and response.
To move this agenda, Amref Health Africa launched its eight-year strategy which is deliberate to attain the Africa Health Agenda 2030 to catalyze and drive community led and people centered health systems while addressing social determinants of health.
The strategy seeks to have universal health coverage by 2030, considering climate change risks as health related, tackle growing youth populations and urbanization, increase public health security driven by preparedness and response, political stability and digitizing health.