This article is a guest from Daisy Moulton for VaccineNation.

Africa CDC, the “autonomous public health institution of the African Union” (AU) announced in July 2023 that a strategic shakeup of its Advisory and Technical Council (ATC) had taken place at the 6th Ordinary Session for the governing board. Hosted in Nairobi, Kenya, the session facilitated a direct response to the AU’s decision to empower Africa CDC with the “critical mission of disease prevention and control” on the continent.  

What’s changing?

The ATC comprises scientists with the expertise to provide support and advice, improving public health throughout the continent. This advice supports the control, surveillance, and prevention of communicable and non-communicable diseases. ATC aims to respond quickly to new health threats and improve the quality and safety of clinical laboratories in Africa.  

The new ATC structure contains at least 20 members, including those from WHO, and the Regional Integrated Surveillance and Laboratory Network (RISLNET). The newly appointed chair is Dr Eduardo Samo Gudo, an immunologist and virologist. Working alongside him is the newly appointed vice-chair, Dr Morenike Oguan Alex-Okoh, who displayed excellent leadership skills as part of the COVID-19 pandemic response in Nigeria. Both promotions have been praised by the Director General of Africa CDC, Dr Jean Kaseya, demonstrating his confidence in the new structure of the ATC. 

Combatting COVID-19

During the pandemic, Africa CDC contributed to extensive efforts to encourage vaccinations across the country, resulting in 31.1% of the African population having received two doses by 2023. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine was the leading vaccine acquired by the member African states, followed by the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. 

However, 2021 data from the WHO and UNICEF shows that as high as 8.4 million children in Africa missed routine immunisations due to the pandemic. Therefore, synchronising routine childhood vaccinations alongside the COVID-19 vaccinations is a key goal for Africa CDC. This aligns with the most recent World Vaccination Week, in April, with the theme: ‘The Big Catch Up’. Africa CDC is clearly focused on international immunisation goals as it moves to become a stronger network of health systems.  

Steps in the right direction

Africa CDC has made significant improvements to immunisation rates to prevent the spread of diseases such as polio and neonatal tetanus. Hence, improving vaccination will be another main aim for the newly appointed ATC, whose new members will start a non-renewable term for the next 3 years.  

The restructuring of the ATC is excellent news for African public health as it will only facilitate further improvements for the continent and the global community. What do you hope to see from the ATC over the coming years? Are you impressed by these appointments and the intention demonstrated by Africa CDC?  

We look forward to hearing more about Africa CDC’s health goals for the future and how they will be implemented when senior representatives join us for the World Vaccine Congress in Barcelona. Make sure you get your tickets to join the discussion today.  

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