Post-Ebola, AU plans pan-African CDC

Heads of state and government representatives during the 17th Ordinary African Union Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, in 2011. The bloc plans to establish an African center for disease control by mid-2015. Photo by: Embassy of Equatorial Guinea / CC BY-ND

The African Union will announce the launch of its Ebola Solidarity Fund on Friday during the AU summit in Addis Ababa, a first step toward its goal of establishing an African center for disease control by mid-2015.

On the heels of criticism from Oxfam that African leaders aren’t doing enough to contain the Ebola outbreak, AU Commissioner for Social Affairs Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko said that the first phase would focus on "an early warning system" for the detection of epidemics.

"We should be ready next time. We shouldn't be caught unprepared," Kaloko said.

Kaloko described a single “coordination center somewhere within the AU,” followed by the construction of “up to eight regional centers.”

The AU, along with the African Development Bank and regional private sector donors pledged $28 million in November, in addition to providing more than 600 doctors and nurses to help control the disease in the three hardest-hit countries: Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

Oxfam issued a scathing statement ahead of the announcement on Wednesday, accusing African leaders of reneging on their promise to improve health care in the region, as outlined in the Abuja Declaration of 2001.

"It's clear that Africa’s existing architecture for early disease detection, response and control is wholly inadequate," Oxfam said in the statement, calling for the AU to finalize plans for an African Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The African Union Summit, which begins Thursday, will bring together leaders of the 54-member bloc in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to discuss regional issues.

The Ebola epidemic has claimed almost 9,000 lives, mostly in West Africa, and is the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history.

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    Molly Anders

    Molly Anders is a U.K. Correspondent for Devex. Based in London, she reports on development finance trends with a focus on British and European institutions. She is especially interested in evidence-based development and women’s economic empowerment, as well as innovative financing for the protection of migrants and refugees. Molly is a former Fulbright Scholar and studied Arabic in Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco.