New Telegraph

CDC Reveals Only 6,900 Epidemiologists Serve 1.4bn Africans

The Director General of the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr Jean Kaseya on Tuesday said while Africa has an estimated population of 1.4 billion, it only has 6,900 field and frontline epidemiologists to serve the continent.

Dr Kaseya made the disclosure at the 2023 Conference on Public Health in Africa in Lusaka, Zambia.

According to him, Africa experiences an average of two new disease outbreaks per week, totalling over 100 outbreaks annually, adding that 75% of these outbreaks are of zoonotic origin and are exacerbated by changes in climate.

Epidemiologists are instrumental in studying the patterns, causes, and consequences of diseases within populations, as well as determining the source and transmission of disease outbreaks.

The current population of Africa, according to Worldometre, is estimated at 1,474,406,856.

Dr. Kaseya emphasized the impact of climate change on health in Africa, citing the prevalence of cholera, dengue, flooding, earthquakes, and other natural disasters in various African countries.


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He also highlighted that Africa loses 5-15% of its GDP annually due to the effects of climate change.

Moreover, the Africa CDC boss pointed out that less than 10% of African countries have the capacity to effectively respond to a major outbreak with a skilled health workforce.

He stated the need for 6,000 field epidemiologists in Africa, with the current number being only 1,900.

Similarly, the continent requires 25,000 frontline epidemiologists, but only 5,000 are presently available

To address this gap, Africa CDC has launched various programs and initiatives such as the Africa Volunteers Health Corps, Kofi Annan, and the Field Epidemiology Training Program.

Dr Kaseya also expressed concern about the heavy reliance on imports for essential healthcare products in Africa, with less than one per cent of vaccines, five per cent of diagnostics, and 30 per cent of therapeutics used in Africa being manufactured on the continent.

Therefore, there is a critical need to strengthen medical manufacturing capabilities within Africa to enhance self-reliance and reduce vulnerability to supply disruptions.

The Africa CDC aims to ensure that by 2040, a minimum of 60% of vaccines and medicines used in Africa are manufactured within the continent.

Dr Kaseya underscored the significance of local manufacturing as the “second independence of Africa,” emphasizing its potential to reduce reliance on external sources, bolster health security, drive local innovation, and stimulate economic growth and job creation.

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