Dodoma. Tanzania and other African countries need to strengthen their national public health institutes and expand local vaccine manufacturing capacity as part of the continent’s mission to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, said Africa’s leader on disease prevention.
The Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) Dr John Nkengasong told health scientists and policymakers during the 8th Tanzania Health Summit in Dodoma that the challenges brought about by the outbreak of COVID-19 can best be resolved if strong health institutions are in place.
“We, therefore, invite and encourage the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania to embrace this mission,” said Nkengasong in a virtual speech, titled: The position of Africa in the global COVID-19 response architecture, in which he emphasized local production of diagnostics and therapeutics and reinforcing public health workforce.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for us all to build resilient systems, to adapt them, so that they can cope with the 21st Century trend,” he said during the summit attended by over 600 health stakeholders; including policymakers, healthcare investors, scientists, hospital owners.
The Africa CDC Chief emphasized on the need for African countries to build respectful partnerships both with the local partners, the private sector and international actors in a way that leads to an action-oriented partnership.
Inspired by the theme: Leaving No One Behind 2021-2026: Analyzing the promise, and tracking the progress, the scientists highlighted the need for the country to strengthen local research capacity to identify the challenges caused by COVID-19 pandemic for evidence-based planning and interventions.
A specialist in Paediatrics and Child Health at the Hubert Kairuki Health and Education Network Dr Florence Kalamabu, said “Without scientific evidence on how Tanzanians have been affected by the pandemic, it will prove difficult to establish the right solutions.”
Speaking during the opening of the summit, the country’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Aifello Sichalwe said Tanzania is currently focusing on working with the African Union (AU) and the international community to strengthen vaccination programmes as the country’s top priority. However, he added, research on epidemics is picking pace.
“The Ministry of Health is emphasizing on building research capacity to find solutions to epidemic diseases.
The government is working to improve any challenges arising in this area,’’ said Dr Sichalwe.