EU pledges support for African Union disease control and prevention

In February, the European Commission’s Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) pledged €6 million to the African Union (AU) during a Team Europe Ministerial Health Mission to Ethiopia and the AU. In addition, to bolster fast epidemic detection and response capacities, the Commission pledged €9 million to boost overall Africa CDC capacity from 2024-2027, and Enabel, the Belgian Development Agency, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Africa CDC.

This EU-AU dialogue and pledges aimed to accelerate equal access to healthcare, strengthen the EU-Africa partnership, and address health challenges in line with the EU Global Health strategy and Team Europe Initiatives.

The EU funds will support projects of the Joint European Commission – Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Initiative on Genomic Sequencing in partnership with the African Society for Laboratory Medicine and the Africa Public Health Foundation. The Initiative aims to strengthen pathogen surveillance and public health laboratory capacity across the continent.

Sequencing-based surveillance, a method used in public health to monitor and track infectious diseases, is particularly important in identifying specific virus strands such as influenza, Ebola or COVID-19, and track their spread over time across geographical locations. Sequencing genomic material helps in identifying outbreak origins, track virus evolution, detect new variants, and understand transmission patterns, crucial for public health. The data guides public authorities in implementing control measures, developing targeted interventions like vaccines, and assessing their effectiveness, and informs decisions on resource allocation and outbreak control strategies, crucial for mitigating disease impact.

“We all saw with the pandemic how important surveillance is to see what is coming. This can make a real difference to health systems and communities across Africa and can play a crucial role for early detection and the risk of outbreaks globally”, Commissioner Kyriakides noted.