The African Union (AU) on Wednesday called on African countries and pan African institutions to exert concerted efforts towards tackling continuing major public health threats.

“Public health in Africa is improving rapidly, but disease threats remain a big risk,” the 55-member pan African bloc said in a statement issued on Wednesday, emphasizing the crucial need to redouble ongoing efforts in tackling public health perils that are affecting the well-being of Africa’s populace.

The AU also stressed that “safeguarding Africa’s health against disease threats is imperative particularly with the implementation of the International Health Regulations and other African Union policy frameworks that deal with health issues across the continent.”

The AU made the urgent call during an ongoing high-level continental public health-themed meeting that was organized by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) – a specialized agency of the AU Commission that was established to support African countries’ efforts in the public health sector.

The continental meeting, which was held on Wednesday at the AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa under the theme “Role of National Public Health Institutes in Health Security,” mainly discussed on improving Africa’s public health systems by building vibrant National Public Health Institutions to prepare and rapidly respond in times of outbreak, it was noted.

According to the AU, the meeting “provides a unique opportunity for multi-sectoral discussions by experts from the public health and other development sectors on how to bridge the gaps in public health in Africa vis-a-vis the continental and global development agendas.”

The Africa CDC is a specialized agency of the AU Commission, which envisages strengthening the capacity and capability of public health institutions in Africa as well as partnerships so as to “quickly and effectively detect and respond to disease threats and outbreaks, based on data-driven interventions and programs.”

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