LUSAKA —Zambia’s revolutionary leader, President Hakainde Hichilema has implored the Africa Union member States to urgently address the need to strengthen public health emergency operation centres in order to respond quickly to health threats.
President Hichilema observed that many African countries lack emergency coordination structures and capacity to anticipate and provide a timely response towards any disease or health threat as it were, which is not good for the continent.
President Hichilema noted that a disease outbreak or health challenge requires rapid response but observed that most often the health systems and administrations have split responsibilities and personnel that are adequately linked and coordinated when faced with emergencies.
Speaking during the Africa Centre for Disease Control and prevention high level side event at Mulungushi International Conference Centre, Kenneth Kaunda Wing, President Hichilema stated that the matter requires urgent attention.
He urged various governments to set the tone clear as can be leant from the effects and impacts of COVID-19 both on people’s lives and economies.
“It is my hope that this side event will achieve its objectives as set out, as individual member states and collectively set ourselves out into a cause of better preparedness when we are faced with such a situation,” President Hichilema indicated.
The Head of State called on member countries to act in unison in order to contribute solutions to global emergency challenges and not be presenting inadequacies’ that usually require others to solve.
He said Africa has a primary responsibility to deal with its own challenges, hence the event was timely to produce fruitful results.
AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamati said the previous years presented challenges for Africa not only because of the COVID-19 pandemic but also because of the challenges faced by the fragile health systems on the continent.
Mr. Mahamati explained that the AU learnt important lessons to improve the health systems and strengthen the way in which member states can work together.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic alone pushed an estimated 55 million Africans into extreme poverty, impacting on economic growth and progress.
Mr. Mahamati disclosed that the work of the Africa CDC is one of the AU key institutions that is relied upon to deliver on the vision of agenda 2063.
“You will recall your excellencies that the lesson we learnt in preparing for and responding to disease threats on the continent led us to device a new way for Africa to ensure our health security imbedded in Africa’s new public health order and calls upon all of us to support the AU and Africa CDC to successfully implement this vision,” Mr. Mahamati noted.
He was happy that Zambia hosts one of the regional operations of Africa CDC, a contribution and commitment to the efforts of the AU in continuation of its work.
The event carried the theme strengthening Public Health Emergency Operation Centres (PHEOC) in Africa, a call to action, hosted in Zambia with support from the Africa CDC and prevention.
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OPENING STATEMENT DELIVERED BY H.E. HAKAINDE HICHILEMA, THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF ZAMBIA DURING THE OPENING SESSION OF 4TH MID YEAR COORDINATION SUMMIT OF HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT OF THE AFRICAN UNION LUSAKA- ZAMBIA 17 / 7 / 2022.
Your Excellency, Macky Sall, President of The Republic of Senegal And Chairperson of The African Union;
Your Excellencies Heads of States and Government of African Union Member States Here Present;
Your Excellency, Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of The African Union Commission;
Your Excellencies, Former Heads of State and Government;
Her Excellency, Dr. Vera Songwe, United Nations Under Secretary General and Executive Secretary of The Economic Commission for Africa;
Your Excellencies, Representatives of Heads of State and Government,
Your Excellencies, Invited Guests,
Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen;
On behalf of the government and people of the republic of Zambia, we are profoundly honoured and privileged to welcome you all to Lusaka, and indeed grateful, for this rare opportunity to host the 4th mid-year coordination meeting in our country.
This summit brings together members of the bureau of the assembly of African union and the chairpersons of our regional economic communities on the continent, to discuss pertinent issues related to our integration agenda, and other issues affecting our continent.
The mid-year coordination meeting was borne out of the need to ensure efficiency in the execution of our continental programmes for the benefit of our peoples.
Your presence at this meeting, therefore, as representatives of the 8 regional economic communities, attests to your strong commitment to deliver on this mandate placed on us to attain the objectives that we have set out for ourselves in our continental transformation blueprint – agenda 2063.
Before we proceed, we would like to take this opportunity to thank his excellency, Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the African union commission, and commend his team for the he support rendered to the Zambian government in ensuring that this summit is held successfully.
Chairperson, your excellencies,
At this juncture, we would like to reflect on our theme for the year 2022 which is: Building resilience in nutrition and food security across the African continent: strengthening agriculture, accelerate the human capital, social and economic development”.
The theme reminds us of the urgent need to reflect deeply and pay special attention to the welfare and well-being of our people, and transform our collective potential in agriculture, into tangible results and ensure that nutrition and food security are guaranteed on our continent.
We are confident, that despite the pervasive disruptions of climate change, the covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, our continued resolve to work together as a continent will lead us to overcoming these challenges and deliver on our shared objective of achieving sustainable, inclusive economic growth and development on the continent.
To effectively address the impact of climate change and other shocks, we wish to encourage member states to consider signing and ratifying the Africa risk capacity treaty, which will open up assistance channels in planning, preparing and responding to these shocks in a timely and cost-effective manner.
To guard against the growing global problem of food insecurity which is being compounded by rising costs of food, energy and agricultural inputs, we need to raise the levels of productivity in agriculture, emphasise on value addition through Agro-processing, accelerate research in agriculture, emphasise on and increase support to rural farmers whose livelihoods mainly depend on agriculture.
Further, to expedite the economic transformation of our continent, African countries need enhance intra – continental trade and take full advantage of opportunities presented by the Africa continental free trade area, which offers a 1.3 billion market size for products from within the continent.
We need to accelerate implementation of agenda 2063 flagship projects such as the integrated high-speed train railway network which will improve connectivity on the continent and allow easy, faster, and free movement of goods and people.
In addition, initiatives such as the programme on infrastructure development in Africa (PIDA) are critical in enhancing regional integration and fostering economic transformation on the continent by opening up our borders and interconnecting our countries.
There can be no meaningful economic development on our continent, or indeed anywhere else, in the absence of peace and security.
We must work and act together to silence the guns and all hotbeds of violence on our continent – such as the Islamism insurgent activities in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Somalia, the Sahel and our sister republic of Mozambique, by addressing the root causes of these conflicts.
These include, but is not limited to addressing economic and political governance issues, the educational system, lack of dialogue and most recently, the threat posed by the covid19 pandemic.
The Zambian government and our people, pledge and reaffirm our commitment to being a shinning beacon of peace in championing the realization of a peaceful and ultimately a prosperous Africa.
Chairperson, your excellencies and dear colleagues,
As we conclude, let me reassure you that Zambia will continue to play her part in supporting the work of the African union in the actualization of our continental aspirations for peace and security, inclusive economic growth and development, as well as building democracies that deliver dividends for our people.
We look forward to fruitful deliberations and we are confident that the outcomes of this summit will move us closer to our vision of a prosperous, peaceful and integrated Africa.
God bless you.
God bless Africa.
I thank you for your kind attention.