The African Union has announced a new initiative that will help the continent better meet the health challenges of the future.
The Kofi Annan Global Health Leadership Programme is a new AU effort under the auspices of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). It is named in memory of Kofi Atta Annan, seventh secretary-general of the United Nations (1997-2006), Nobel Peace Prize laureate and founding chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation. Annan worked tirelessly to promote improved health in Africa, particularly with regard to HIV/AIDS. He died in 2018 at age 80.
“In 2014 when the Ebola epidemic struck in West Africa, Kofi Annan publicly called for the establishment of an African institution that would focus on disease prevention and control on the continent,” said El Hadj As Sy, chairman of the board of the Kofi Annan Foundation. “Today, Africa CDC, an institution of the African Union, plays a leading role in shaping Africa’s response to COVID-19.”
The program intends to create public health leadership to harness Africa’s human potential. This emerging leadership will help galvanize a new public health order so the continent can meet 21st century challenges.
The program is built on three components:
The Public Health Leadership Fellow Programme will equip emerging and established public health leaders with skills to initiate innovative, bold, visionary and implementable African-owned solutions to address disease threats.
The Public Health Scholar Programme will help place experts within National Public Health Institutes and health ministries to enable strategic leadership, mentorship and policy development.
The Public Health Virtual Leadership Academy will become the continent’s leading digital think tank platform to democratize the search for new insights and solutions for African public health needs. It will create the nexus between health threats and economics, finance, technology, gender, security, and human rights.
“Africa is a resilient continent, but we need stronger health systems and institutions that can support communities to become more resilient,” said Dr. John Nkengasong, director of the Africa CDC. “The Kofi Annan Global Health Leadership is a visionary program that will help advance the tremendous potential that exists within the public health systems of the continent.”