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APHF began operations during the pandemic, with a strong spirit of collaboration through virtual working. With an expanded Governing Council and a growing team — APHF is poised for growth and impact.

On Dec. 31, 2019, Chinese authorities alerted the World Health Organization of pneumonia cases in Wuhan City, Hubei province, China, with an unknown
cause. On that day, the organisation known as the Africa Public Health Foundation was no more than an entity registered in Mauritius, with a growing group of governing council members, led by the Founder, Dr Bernard Haufiku. With a mission centred on mobilising resources for and awareness of the goals of Africa CDC, the foundation had been officially launched by Africa CDC at the World Economic Forum some months before [insert hyperlink to launch

The emergence of the pandemic made it clear that the work of the Africa Public Health Foundation would be more needed than ever. With a remit akin to the CDC Foundation to the Centres for Disease Control in the US, or the WHO Foundation to the WHO, the Africa Public Health Foundation would need to establish itself quickly. The start-up journey, as with these other sister entities, has not been straightforward. But the Africa Public Health Foundation has, with the support of partners, funders and most of all the Africa CDC, demonstrated its potential, established a staffed and fully functioning operation and, most importantly, supported countries and communities across Africa to access the tests, vaccines and health workers – without which they may have been left behind.

“To move along the road to pandemic preparedness, we need to come out of this COVID-
19 crisis with the same resolve that we saw after the Ebola crisis – with a shared commitment to invest in our public health infrastructure in Africa.”

Dr Bernard HaufikuFounder and Chair of the Africa Public Health Foundation

Over the course of 2020 and through much of 2021, the Africa Public Health Foundation’s functions were delivered predominantly by consultants, funded by a growing group of philanthropists. Systems and structures were built, under the direction of the Council and guidance from Africa CDC, while the skills of permanent staff members were gradually brought on board from May 2021. Throughout, the team of consultants, staff members, Council members and partners worked remotely. In this way, the organisation was born online, from our homes. While we were far apart, there were no office or organisational boundaries.

Pragmatism and commitment were the order of the day – attitudes shared with the funders and partners we worked with. Together with members of the Africa Donor Collective, under the stewardship of Virgin Unite, we shaped ways of streamlining giving in a flexible and agile way to support Africa CDC’s roll-out of COVID-19 vaccinations. We worked out how to get funds quickly to the countries and organisations that needed it. We learnt how hard registration and recruitment are, and how much longer it would take to work towards a fully staffed team and sustainable revenue model. And we developed more gratitude for the patience and commitment from our partners than they will ever know. Fast forward to June 2022, we opened the door to our first real office, without fuss or fanfare. Our booth in a co-working space has enough space for six of the eight- strong Secretariat to be together at any one time. We are embracing hot-desking and hybrid working. But most of all, we get to meet the people behind the screens and WhatsApp messages: our colleagues, our council members, our partners who took on a risk on us – and who we hope are taking pride in what we are

As we emerge from the pandemic, albeit too slowly and without the equity deserved by our continent, partners from all sectors do now have a platform through which to collaborate and accelerate Africa CDC’s vision of a New Public Health Order.