In November, UK-PHRST members attended the 2023 International Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA) in Lusaka Zambia.They launched a Global Health Diplomacy course which was developed with Africa CDC, discussed how best to respond to infectious disease outbreaks and strengthened our partnership with Africa CDC to support mental health across the continent.
The annual conference provides a unique African-led platform for leaders across the continent to reflect on lessons learned in health and science, and create more resilient health systems. This year’s conference was attended by thousands of delegates from across Africa and international partners.
Dr Ed Newman, UK-PHRST Director said: “This year’s International Conference on Public Health in Africa was a great opportunity for the UK-PHRST to support our Africa-CDC colleagues with their events and partake in some critical side events ourselves – further building on the excellent relationships we have in the region. I was especially pleased to see the emphasis on African health leadership to build solutions for the continent’s public health challenges, particularly exemplified by the close alliance demonstrated by Africa CDC and WHO Senior leadership. We support their clear call for nationally driven, local responses to public health threats - further emphasising the value that both organisations place on collaboration."
African leadership course on Global Health Diplomacy launched
Tanu Soni, UK-PHRST Capacity Strengthening Officer, presented at the 2nd Annual African Health Diplomacy Symposium side event, and unveiled the co-developed UK-PHRST and Africa CDC Global Health Diplomacy course. The UK-PHRST will lead the course in partnership with Africa CDC which will help build stronger global health security as it advances the New Public Health Order for Africa.
The first course of its kind to focus on African leadership including diplomats, leaders, public and global health experts and international relations specialists. The course has three aims:
- enhance African public health leadership and diplomacy skills
- develop refreshed tools and frameworks for health diplomacy
- develop evidence-based resources relevant to African public health situations.
The event generated considerable interest in the course, which is due to start in 2024. It will be delivered through online sessions and in-person workshops, underscored by evidence-based content using participatory, interactive and applied learning approaches. Comprising of six main themes, the course will cover topics including; the foundations of health diplomacy and the African perspective, key health diplomacy frameworks and models, the importance of geopolitics and collaboration and the future of health diplomacy.
Overall, the course aims to help its participants gain theoretical knowledge and build their experience in the field through face-to-face networking., This will support African leaders to advocate for their countries’ health needs and share expertise within the global public health context, ultimately ensuring they can deliver more effective responses to future public health emergencies across the continent.
American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene: “The Changing Architecture of Outbreak Response”
Dr Ed Newman joined a panel discussion hosted by the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene to discuss how international response organisations operate alongside local, national and regional partners during outbreaks, and how these interactions have evolved – highlighting both successes, challenges, and future ways of working. Panellists included representatives from Africa CDC, WHO Africa Regional Office, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Medecins Sans Frontieres.
The discussions covered the importance of community engagement in outbreak response, building trust and establishing relationships through capacity strengthening and research, and the importance of transparency to deliver contextually and culturally competent responses. Panellists agreed that nationally led response is important, while international partners can continue to play a critical supportive role – providing specific expertise and capability to that national response and providing partner coordination. The panellists also highlighted that encouraging a capacity building and knowledge sharing mindset between partners was crucial to success.
The aim of the discussion was to create more coordinated and effective nationally led outbreak responses in the future, which would shorten infectious disease outbreaks and save lives.
African Public Health Mental Health Consortium convened
Following directly on from CPHIA, the African Public Mental Health Consortium met face-to-face at the British High Commission in Lusaka, during a one-day interactive meeting to share expertise and lessons learnt from the different institutions around delivering mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) across the continent.
The UK-PHRST’s MHPSS team organised the Consortium meeting, which is made up of several members from across Africa: Africa CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO) African Regional Office, WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office, West Africa Health Organisation, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA-HC) and the UK-PHRST.
Following a highly successful meeting, the Consortium took concrete steps to strengthen their inter-agency collaboration particularly for co-ordinating and strengthening regional MHPSS deployment and outbreak response opportunities and build on ongoing research – ensuring they have maximum positive impact across the continent. They also agreed an ambitious two-year action plan including aims to organise regional workshops on integrating MHPSS into emergency preparedness and response across Southern and Northern Africa, establishing best practice guidelines on the promotion of mental health utilising the community health workforce and organising a regional simulation exercise to strengthen countries' preparedness for public health threats and mitigate their impact on mental health.