By Chinezerem Agbakuru
The second International Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA 2022), hosted by Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and African Union (AU) debuted in 2021 in Kigali, Rwanda. The three-day conference created a unique platform for participants to collaborate on research, innovations and public health across the African continent.
Due to the prevalence of the Covid-19 pandemic, the conference was held virtually, addressing long-standing health emergencies such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. It equally aimed at increasing progress in the fight against Covid-19 disease.
Over twelve thousand public health stakeholders from across Africa were in attendance.
Chairperson of the AU Commission H. E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, H.E. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and AU Champion for Domestic Health Financing, Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC addressed the attendees.
The presence of these distinguished personalities voices in very clear terms the need for Africans to come together and find solutions to current and emerging health challenges, especially in their homelands instead of waiting for external aid.
It indicates that Africa believes it is time to effect changes that will safeguard the health of its people.
Africa has recorded several diseases with devastating consequences.
Such diseases as malaria, cholera, Covid-19, Dengue fever, Ebola, Hepatitis B, C and E Human Immunodeficiency Virus HIV, Lassa fever, Marburg Virus disease, measles, meningococcal meningitis, monkeypox, poliomyelitis, tuberculosis, yellow fever, rift valley fever, Zika virus are some of the diseases which have ravaged and still ravage the African continent.
These diseases have given rise to high mortality, suffering, disabilities, deformities, and loss of productivity. Research has shown that severe and permanent disabilities and deformities affect approximately 1 billion people in the world; and that malaria is responsible for one million deaths annually, almost exclusively happening in Africa.
The disease burden is so devastating because it affects all components of human development including income, health, education, commerce, social status, productivity, and technology including indirect components of human existence.
The prevalence of diseases can reverse even the lofty strides made in development.
It is therefore obvious that international collaboration, especially among African countries is very important if Africa must attain successful health strategies.
Thus, the 2022 Conference on Public Health in Africa is timely.
As individuals from academic and government institutions, national, regional, community and faith-based organisations, private sector firms, researchers, front-line health workers and advocates gather together to share perspectives and research findings, it is believed that this conference will usher in a new era of collaboration and innovation across the blessed African continent, thus bringing a new lease of life, increased life expectancy, reduced mortality, and greater development for the continent.