The Kenyan government and World Health Organization on Saturday launched a medical emergency hub in Nairobi, the first in a network of African centres they say will hasten responses to regional emergencies.
The facility will include a training centre, house a cadre of professionals that can respond to a medical emergency within its first 24 hours and stockpiles of medical equipment.
The WHO says it wants to help create these quick response teams in every African country.
“We see the continent expressing in very practical terms its determination to be better prepared for the next pandemic… this is going to be our contribution to helping countries build their capacity to be much better prepared and better able to respond,” WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said.
Kenya will become a regional hub for medical equipment, which will help neighbouring countries get required medicines faster.
There was no timeline on when the hub would be fully operational but WHO will start work on helping countries identify and train national emergency responders immediately, Moeti said.
Africa experiences over 100 health emergencies per year, more than any other region in the world, according to the WHO.
Currently, the global health body is monitoring events including potential cases of the highly infectious Marburg virus in Ghana, measles in the Democratic Republic of Congo and cholera in Cameroon – in addition to COVID-19 and monkey pox throughout the continent.
Floods, droughts, and conflict, which are on the rise in much of the region, also affect public health.
“All of this needs very solid preparations so that when things happen that are going to trigger an increase in vulnerability to disease and illness, the national systems are ready to manage that,” Moeti said.