A special ceremony was held at the headquarters of the Africa CDC in the southern suburb of Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital on Wednesday to mark the African Union (AU) autonomous specialized healthcare agency’s seventh anniversary.
The celebration, under the theme "A journey of action and commitment to safeguarding Africa’s health security," highlighted the Africa CDC’s successes in supporting public health initiatives on the continent and strengthening the capacity of public health institutions in Africa to detect, prevent, control and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats.
Since it was established in January 2016 by African leaders and officially launched one year later, the agency has withstood various public health threats, ranging from the Ebola virus outbreak to the most recent COVID-19 pandemic, said Director-General of the Africa CDC Jean Kaseya.
"It’s a great pride to see our Africa CDC growing, thriving, and achieving more than what one has ever thought of in just seven years of its existence. As we reflect on our collective achievements, we are inspired by the impact created, the lives saved, and the resilience of our continent," he said.
"As Africa CDC, we have relentlessly advocated for a New Public Health Order for Africa, emphasizing the necessity for a fundamental shift in our approach to public health on the continent," he said.
"Our journey forward will be rooted in the foundational principles of the 5Cs — community, connectivity, capacity, collaboration, and climate. These pillars have not only anchored our progress but will remain the guiding light as we aspire to shape a New Public Health Order for Africa," he added.
According to the AU, the occasion marked a significant milestone in the existence of the young organization since its establishment, witnessing transformative growth at the institutional, strategic, and operational levels.
Africa CDC, as a platform for strategic guidance and knowledge exchange among member states, is steadfast in its commitment to continental health security, the AU noted.
Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission Monique Nsanzabaganwa said the Africa CDC has been playing a critical role in the promotion of timely response to health emergencies on the continent.
"The results we can see today are significant, and proof beyond doubt that Africa CDC is well placed to carry out the mandates entrusted to it," she said.
To mark the occasion, Africa CDC honored Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the former chair of the AU Commission, and John Nkengasong, the inaugural director of Africa CDC, by naming the twin towers of its headquarters after them in recognition of their contributions to the establishment and development of the agency, respectively.
The Chinese-built Africa CDC headquarters, which is regarded as a flagship project in China-Africa public health cooperation, was officially inaugurated in January last year.
In November last year, the Africa CDC also unveiled a China-aided reference laboratory at its headquarters. It said the completion of the laboratory marks a milestone in its pursuit of a strong continental public health institution that will support AU members in improving disease diagnosis, surveillance and outbreak response.