The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention was officially open for business on Wednesday, following a ribbon cutting ceremony at the conclusion of this week’s African Union summit.
The ceremony celebrated a state-of-the-art Emergency Operating Center in Addis Ababa designed to support early warning and response systems, deliver technical expertise and strategy, and coordinate public health services.
“As an African-owned institution, the Africa CDC is uniquely positioned to help protect the health of the continent,” the AU Commission said in a statement. “It will also join the international networks of public health institutions to share information and improve surveillance of public health threats.”
The Ebola crisis in West Africa sharpened attention to the need for an African CDC, and the center’s completion was made a priority during a 2015 African Union Ministers of Health meeting in Equatorial Guinea.
“When a house is on fire, the entire village must help rescue those at risk and extinguish the blaze,” the CDC explains. “The Africa CDC will empower African countries to share knowledge, build capacity, and help one another, creating a safer, healthier Africa.”
Officials also stressed the economic impact of advancing community and public health initiatives.
The CDC plans regional centers across the continent. These collaborating centers will be located in Kenya, Zambia, Egypt, Gabon and Nigeria, and are expected to work together on a daily basis to ensure public health goals are achieved.
Image: AU CDC