Africa CDC and UNICEF expand partnership to strengthen health systems and immunization of children in Africa

ByUnited Nations Children's Fund

Africa CDC and UNICEF expand partnership to strengthen health systems and immunization of children in Africa

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and UNICEF announced an extended partnership dedicated to strengthening primary healthcare, supply chain management, pooled procurement and local manufacturing, and emergency response.

The collaboration builds on the 2022-2024 Partnership Framework Agreement between Africa CDC and UNICEF, which aims to achieve the goals outlined in the African Union Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want. The partnership is expected to have a significant impact on public health in Africa by strengthening procurement and supply chain systems, with a particular focus on immunization for children across the continent.

H.E Dr Jean Kaseya, Director General of Africa CDC, and Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Humanitarian Action and Supply Operations, signed the expanded partnership agreement in Addis Ababa.

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the fragility of many healthcare systems and highlighted deficiencies and challenges in medical supply chains. While countries with strong primary healthcare systems were better able to cope, the disruption caused by the pandemic left others facing shortages of vital medical commodities. Over the next four years, Africa CDC and UNICEF will work together to establish robust institutional backing for supply chain management and enhance pooled procurement mechanisms to fortify Africa’s healthcare infrastructure, ensuring timely and adequate access to essential medical supplies for its population.

H.E Jean Kaseya expressed his pride in the partnership with UNICEF, stating that their shared commitments will enhance primary healthcare and strengthen Africa’s health security.

‘‘The partnership will optimize supply chain management, operationalize the pool procurement mechanism for Africa CDC, empower community health workers, and advance local manufacturing. Ultimately, these efforts will strengthen immunization systems and reduce outbreaks and epidemics on the continent’’, he says.

Immunization is one of the most effective public health interventions globally. However, millions of children in Africa are still deprived of life-saving vaccinations. UNICEF’s The State of the World’s Children 2023: For Every Child, Vaccination report revealed that 12.7 million children were under-vaccinated in 2021, including 8.7 million who did not receive a single dose, also called “zero-dose” children.

“This partnership is a commitment to the well-being of children and their families, affirming their right to health. By strengthening our partnership with Africa CDC and the Joint Emergency Action Plan for Africa, we can ensure communities get the support they need without delay,” said Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Humanitarian Action and Supply Operations. “The push forward on paid and protected community health workers, medical supplies made in Africa, for Africans, remains one of our highest priorities.”

During the past two years, UNICEF and Africa CDC have achieved significant milestones in strengthening Africa CDC’s institutional capacity and catalyzing community health programs, immunization systems, emergency response, and supply chain enhancement. Collaborative efforts secured the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine doses and essential cold chain equipment for routine immunization. Joint high-level advocacy initiatives focused on immunization, community health, and response to public health emergencies.

Africa imports 99% of its vaccines and 70 to 90% of its medicines and medical devices, which is a significant challenge. Africa CDC aims to achieve sustainable production and supply of essential health commodities through African manufacturers, considered Africa’s second independence by Africa CDC. Africa CDC’s goal is to work with African Union Member States and partners to actively advocate for and support the procurement of vaccines made in Africa and prioritize initiatives that strengthen local manufacturing.

Through the Partnership for Vaccine Manufacturing, Africa CDC aims to manufacture 60% of the continent’s vaccine needs by 2040, paving the way toward robust and self-reliant health systems, and ensuring that people can obtain and use health commodities when and where required.

The expanded partnership between Africa CDC and UNICEF signifies a concerted effort to address Africa’s pressing health challenges. By prioritizing immunization, strengthening health systems, and promoting local production, both organizations are poised to make tangible and sustainable impacts on the health and well-being of children and communities across the continent while safeguarding Africa’s health security.