WHO cautious on Africa CDC declaring health outbreaks

Africa

The World Health Organization (WHO) says plans by the Africa Centres for Disease Control (CDC) to have powers to declare public health outbreaks within Africa require further discussion.

The health body says it is likely to lead to confusion and have a huge impact on trade and travel.

The Africa CDC says its push for a stronger role will help it contain the spread of diseases much faster.

Currently, only WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom can declare a public health emergency of international concern.

The Africa CDC wants to focus on Africa alone.

The head of WHO’s regional office for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, says such a declaration could have huge implications on African countries. She cited last year’s emergence of the Omicron variant of coronavirus that saw Western nations isolate the continent with travel bans.

“WHO believes a careful reflection on the interfacing between the declaration of a public health emergency of continental security and the global process would be of benefit,” said Dr Moeti in a statement.

Earlier this year, Malawi and Mozambique declared wild polio virus outbreaks following the death of two children in the two southern African countries.

Sierra Leone also declared an outbreak of anthrax in May.

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