Strengthening regional collaboration

Disease outbreaks in one country have the potential to spread quickly to neighboring countries and can easily become a regional or continental crisis and, as COVID- 19 has demonstrated, a global pandemic.

Therefore, Africa CDC approaches public health preparedness and response preparedness as flowing from the Member States to the Regional Collaboration Centres and finally to the continental level. In line with this, Africa CDC introduced a new and innovative approach of public health practice in Africa; the Regional Integrated Surveillance and Laboratory network (RISLNET).

RISLNET is a unique modality that brings together public health institutions and professionals and other existing networks to accelerate regional IHR implementation through facilitating use of existing public health assets, cross border transfer of specimens, and sharing of data and best practices.

This includes building RISLNET in all the five Regional Collaborating Centres of Africa CDC that can coordinate and integrate data from all regional public health surveillance, laboratory, and emergency response assets to prevent, detect, protect against, response and control public health events in the region and ultimately in the continent. RISLNET consists of five components: Coordination, Surveillance, Laboratory, Animal Health and Pandemic preparedness.

In late 2020, the Africa Public Health Foundation received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to enable Africa CDC to strengthen regional collaboration in East and Central Africa, including through the expansion of RISLNET.