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African Ministers Agree on Key Principles for Pandemic Agreement

African Union Health Ministers came together in Addis Ababa on April 27th, 2024, to discuss a crucial agreement: the draft Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response (PPPR) Agreement. 

Facilitated by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the meeting resulted in a consensus on key principles for this agreement.

These principles address the lessons learned from past outbreaks, particularly the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following is a breakdown of the key points:

Solidarity and Equity: African nations strongly believe that all countries, regardless of their development status, deserve equal access to resources and technologies needed to combat pandemics. This includes fair distribution of essential products and technology transfer to enable regional production of health products during pandemics.

Local Manufacturing and Sustainable Funding: The current Pandemic Fund is considered to have limitations. Ministers advocate for a reliable funding mechanism overseen by member states. Additionally, they emphasize exploring new funding sources like the African Epidemic Fund to ensure long-term financial stability.

Strengthening National Systems: African nations acknowledge the importance of robust national healthcare systems. They commit to investing in their healthcare workforce, disease surveillance capabilities, and research & development efforts.

A specific concern raised by the Ministers is around data and information sharing with the World Health Organization (WHO). They advocate for safeguards to prevent this information from being used against member states’ interests.

African nations are committed to playing a proactive role. They have outlined specific actions they will take to ensure equity in the agreement. These include establishing a system for sharing pathogens and benefits derived from them, providing technical support on pandemic preparedness, and implementing safeguards for data sharing with the WHO.

Furthermore, they will focus on strengthening national and regional preparedness plans, addressing intellectual property rights during emergencies, and diversifying supply chains.

The African Union, through the Africa CDC, has expressed its support for these member states in their ongoing negotiations for the Pandemic Agreement. With these principles in mind, African nations stand ready to actively participate in finalizing the agreement and building a more equitable and prepared world for future pandemics.

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