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Calls for a new public health order for Africa, as AFENET Southern Africa FETPs conference opens

The AFENET Southern Africa Field Epidemiology Training Programs (FETPs) virtual conference has kicked off today with Africa CDC Director Dr John Nkengasong giving a keynote speech.

He said: “Africa needs a new public health order in terms of strengthening continental and national public health institutions; strengthening public health workforce; expanded manufacturing of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics; and respectful action oriented partnerships.”

Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, AFENET Director Dr Simon Antara noted that pandemics are not just public health emergencies, they are political economic, social and security emergencies. "Our ability to respond promptly determines the level of mitigation. Prompt intervention depends on the availability of resources including a competent public health workforce imbued with the right knowledge, the right skills, and the right attitude. Indeed, FETPs are a great gift to the global public health community and we must cherish and nurture it".

The duo reiterated that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic emphasizes again the need for a competent public health workforce to tackle the health security threats that Africa and the global community face.

The theme for the 2021 is “Emerging public health threats in Southern Africa: Covid-19, natural disasters and beyond.” The conference will provide a platform for the FETP residents and graduates to showcase their work over the past several years. Residents presenting at the conference come from Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.