“Emerging in the wake of a recent global pandemic, this dialogue arrives at a pivotal juncture. It underscores a collective need to fortify health security and adaptability, extending beyond respective national boundaries,” said Jean Kaseya, director general of Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) at a meeting co-hosted by Brics members on the margins of the Brics summit.
Represented were SA's Ministry of Health, Africa CDC, Africa Health Business and the South African Chapter of the Brics Business Council where participants deliberated on a potential African Union and Brics framework of co-operation for Pandemic, Preparedness, Prevention, Response and Recovery (3P2R).
The dialogue sought to draw from the AU and Brics collective experiences of dealing with Covid-19 and other pandemics, identifying the existing capabilities and acknowledging the gaps that would need to be closed for adequate pandemic preparation and response.
Stakeholders acknowledged that many fora are dealing with global and regional pandemic prevention, preparedness, response and recovery (PPPR), including the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body for the Global Pandemic Accord.
However, they highlighted the reality of the shifting centres of global power, pointing out that the expanded Brics family now represents 4,8 billion people, which is over half of the global population.
Increasing human and animal interconnectedness, climate change and an increasing frequency of infectious disease outbreaks mean that the AU and Brics’ ability to contain infectious diseases has a fundamental bearing on global health security, they said.
The realisation of this growing responsibility compelled AU and Brics stakeholders to convene and begin a process towards a declared collaborative framework.
The collective capabilities identified in medical and digital technologies, human resource potential (particularly in Africa), and pharmaceutical manufacturing were further encouraged. It was observed, for instance, that the Developing Countries Vaccine Manufacturing Network (DCVMN), which comprises manufacturers from Brics member states, contributed to 60% of the Covid-19 vaccine products.
The meeting considered the merits of opening-up the entire expanded Brics and AU market to all pharmaceutical manufacturers in the Brics and AU regions.
Stakeholders also acknowledged that the inequities that persist in many low- and middle-income countries, fragile health systems and inadequate financing for pandemic preparedness and prevention for the AU and Brics families were a threat to pandemic preparedness and overall global health security.
More work must be done to diversify manufacturing, support Africa’s manufacturing targets, ensure primary healthcare is fully developed as a foundation for pandemic preparedness, and to support last-mile delivery, they said.
The New Development Bank's decision on the establishment of a Pandemic Preparedness, Prevention, Response, and Recovery Fund, is expected to be unveiled at the Conference on Public Health in Africa. Set to take place in Lusaka, Zambia, the coinference will run from 27 November-30 November this year.
The annual summit provides a unique African-led platform for leaders across the continent to reflect on lessons learned in health and science, and to align on a way forward for creating more resilient health systems.
It will be Africa CDC's third such gathering.