By Kemo Cham in Lusaka
The Director General of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), Dr Jean Kaseya, has said that the Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA) is poised to reposition he continent on the global health agenda.
Dr Kaseya said this is important because it gives the continent its rightful in global discussion on health issues.
“This is the time for Africa to play a key role in all these organizations,” he told journalists in a preconference presser at the Mulungushi International Conference Center in Lusaka, Zambia.
CPHIA is an annual event that brings together African leaders, health experts, scientists and activists to discuss progress in the health sector and potential solutions for health issues affecting the region.
The Lusaka event (CPHIA 2023) is the third edition of the gathering since it was first launched in 2021, when it was held online. In 2022, the first in-person edition was held in Kigali, Rwanda. Over 2, 000 people attended the Kigali event. And organizers of the Lusaka event say about 5000 delegates were expected in-person, with 15, 000 more to join virtually.
The preconference presser was meant to set the stage for the media on the happenings in the next four days.
The theme for this year’s event is: ‘Breaking barriers: Repositioning Africa in the Global Health Architecture.’
Dr Kaseya told journalists that the conference offers many opportunities for Africa, from coming together to meet and discuss, to preparing the minds of the younger generation, with the hosting of about 500 youths in a preconference summit.
“CPHIA is a combination of opportunities to talk about research and development…How we are pushing science on the agenda,” the Africa CDC boss said.
Also on the panel was the Minister of Health of Zambia, Ms Sylvia Masebo, who spoke on the need for the media to push Africa’s commitment to the global health agenda.
Prof. Margaret Gyampong, Co-chair of CPHIA2023, said Africa was witnessing “an unprecedented” leap in health technology growth, citing groundbreaking innovations the mobile health applications that provide remote consultations and health information, to telemedicine platforms connecting patients with specialized care.
“Technology is bridging the gaps in healthcare access and delivery,” he said.
“The Digital Disease Surveillance piloted by Africa CDC in six countries is developing digital surveillance indicators and online disease dashboards based on social media and search engines to inform infectious disease surveillance on the continent, strengthen real-time surveillance of infectious diseases, guide interventions, and build capacity in “Big Data” approaches for outbreak prediction, analysis and prevention,” she added.
Prof. Gyampong, who is also the Director of the Institute of Health Research in Ghana, said concerted efforts was needed to scale up access to these innovations.
“The success of these groundbreaking innovations rely on robust collaborations between governments, private sector entities and civil society organizations,” she said.
CPHIA 2023 is expected to officially open later this after by the President of Zambia, Hakainde Hitchilema.
Among the confirmed lineup of speakers in the course of the next four days are Sierra Leone’s Minister of Health, Dr Austin Dembi and the World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti.