Friday, August 12 2022

The response to health emergencies across Africa is expected to be strengthened once the World Health Organization’s African Regional Operations and Logistics Centers are built and go live.

The centres, which will be hosted by Kenya, Senegal and Nigeria, will be equipped with emergency medical personnel, products and equipment to support the countries in their emergency response.

They will also be centers of excellence in emergency medical training with a capacity to respond to more than 100 crises at a time.

The aim is for each African country to have at least one integrated team of emergency experts ready to deploy within 24 hours of the declaration of a national health crisis.

Among the professionals to be trained in the centers will be laboratory experts, epidemiologists, data managers, anthropologists, field logisticians and mental health and psychosocial experts.

The WHO says that despite efforts to respond to emergencies, including reducing the time needed to end epidemics from 131 days in 2017 to 45 days in 2019, the pandemic has revealed huge gaps, in particular the lack of emergency responders on the continent.

WHO analysis indicates that less than 10% of African countries have the necessary workforce to prepare for, detect and respond to public health risks. The centers are expected to address these challenges.

The center in Kenya, whose inauguration ceremony took place on Saturday, will help train a corps of 3,000 responders from across East Africa. It will be located at Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital in Kiambu County.

Speaking at the ceremony, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said the center will enable WHO to efficiently and quickly support Kenya and all countries in Eastern and Southern Africa by maintaining stocks of medical and logistical supplies.

The government of Kenya has allocated land for the center and committed $5 million for its operation, he said.

“We will continue to work with other development partners to find more resources to support the completion and full operationalization of this hub.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO, said the new center will build resilience and health security in Kenya, the region and across the continent.

“From the hub, we will be able to coordinate emergency response for the East Africa region and arrange for the delivery of vital medical supplies to where they are most needed across the continent. “.

Pre-positioning supplies at the emergency center is part of WHO’s efforts to drastically reduce the time it takes to deliver supplies to communities across Africa during emergencies, from an average of 20 days now to 72 hours, a he declared.

While the new center is still under construction, WHO teams are already hard at work, he said.

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