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In a significant stride towards bolstering Africa’s healthcare, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and UNICEF have expanded their partnership, aiming to fortify primary healthcare and child immunisation across the continent.

The collaboration, extending the 2022-2024 Partnership Framework Agreement, focuses on enhancing primary healthcare, supply chain management, pooled procurement, local manufacturing, and emergency response. The pivotal goal is to align with the aspirations of the African Union Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.

The recent challenges brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic underscored the vulnerabilities of healthcare systems. Strong primary healthcare systems proved crucial in weathering the storm, while others faced shortages of vital medical supplies. Over the next four years, Africa CDC and UNICEF will work hand in hand to establish robust institutional support for supply chain management and enhance pooled procurement mechanisms. This initiative aims to fortify Africa’s healthcare infrastructure, ensuring timely and adequate access to essential medical supplies.

Immunisation, a cornerstone of public health globally, has faced hurdles in Africa. UNICEF’s report, “The State of the World’s Children 2023: For Every Child, Vaccination,” disclosed that 12.7 million African children were under-vaccinated in 2021, with 8.7 million receiving no doses at all. This partnership places a particular focus on strengthening immunisation systems, with the ultimate aim of reducing outbreaks and epidemics on the continent.

Dr. Jean Kaseya, Director General of Africa CDC, expressed pride in the collaboration, emphasising its potential to enhance primary healthcare and strengthen Africa’s health security. The partnership strives to optimise supply chain management, operationalise pooled procurement mechanisms, empower community health workers, and advance local manufacturing.

Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, highlighted the commitment to children’s well-being, affirming their right to health. The partnership emphasises paid and protected community health workers and promoting medical supplies made in Africa, for Africans.

Africa currently imports 99% of its vaccines and 70 to 90% of medicines and medical devices, posing a significant challenge. The Africa CDC envisions achieving sustainable production and supply of essential health commodities through African manufacturers. The goal is to manufacture 60% of the continent’s vaccine needs by 2040, ensuring robust and self-reliant health systems.

This expanded partnership signifies a collective effort to address Africa’s pressing health challenges. By prioritising immunisation, strengthening health systems, and promoting local production, UNICEF and Africa CDC are poised to make tangible and sustainable impacts on the health and well-being of children and communities across the continent, safeguarding Africa’s health security.

This collaboration represents a beacon of hope for the future health of Africa, demonstrating that when organisations unite with a common purpose, transformative change becomes not just a goal but an achievable reality.   

Reference

Africa CDC and UNICEF expand partnership to strengthen health systems and immunization of children in Africa [Internet]. Unicef.org. [cited 2024 Mar 7]. Available from: https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/africa-cdc-and-unicef-expand-partnership-strengthen-health-systems-and-immunization

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