Initiatives to strengthen health systems and social protection in Africa

Stella Kyriakides @SKyriakidesEU

On February 20, during a high-level event on the European Union (EU) – African Union (AU) partnership on Global Health for equitable access, three health Team Europe Initiatives (TEIs) were launched in Brussels. These initiatives aim to strengthen health security, support African public health institutes, and boost digital health. Additionally, a Team Europe Initiative on Social Protection was also launched. 

The success of tackling current and future health challenges depends on solid international partnerships and shared goals. Therefore, as the EU and Africa expand their strategic health partnership, these initiatives strongly show their mutual commitment to working together. They will jointly strengthen prevention, preparedness, and response to ensure better health care and protection for all EU citizens. 

“Strong international partnerships and shared goals are crucial to effectively tackle current and future health challenges. As we expand the strategic Africa-EU Health partnership, today’s initiatives are part of the external dimension of the European Health Union and a strong sign of our mutual commitment to working together,” Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said. “This means jointly strengthening prevention, preparedness and response and prioritising a One Health approach and the fight against AMR to ensure better health care and protection for all our citizens,” Commissioner Kyriakides added.

The Team Europe Initiative on Sustainable Health Security will focus on strengthening prevention, preparedness, and response to infectious threats and anti-microbial resistance in African countries. This initiative will bring together the European Commission, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Spain, ECDC, and the Africa CDC. The partners will apply a One Health approach, recognising that the health of people, animals, and ecosystems are intrinsically tied, and support the operational capacities of Africa CDC, including laboratories, surveillance systems, and implementation research at national, regional, and continental levels. The initiative will benefit from €123 million from the EU budget from 2022–2027. 

The Support to Public Health Institutes in Africa initiative aims to strengthen African national public health institutes and schools. It will promote regional collaboration and networking among African and European institutes and enhance health workforce training, research, and knowledge exchange. It will ultimately reduce inequities in access to quality health care and disease prevention. The initiative brings together the European Commission, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Africa CDC. It will benefit from €50 million from the EU budget from 2024–2027.

“Through collaborative efforts with Team Europe, we’re advancing health initiatives like One Health and Primary Health Care to advance health systems and disease surveillance across Africa,” Dr Jean Kaseya, Director General of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said. “The launch of these three Team Europe Initiatives focusing on health, alongside our commitment to social protection, signifies a crucial step in addressing global health challenges directly and emphasising universal health coverage,” he added.

The Digital Health initiative seeks to support African partners in strengthening their health systems and achieving universal health coverage through digital solutions. It will also help strengthen primary health care and develop a joint strategy on digital health aligned with regional needs. The initiative will benefit from €87 million from the EU budget from 2021–2027. It will bring together the European Commission, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the Digital for Development (D4D) Hub.

Lastly, the Social Protection initiative aims to strengthen national social protection systems in Sub-Saharan Africa through collaborative efforts at the regional level. It will build on exchanges of European and African experiences and good practices to establish social protection systems. This initiative brings together the European Commission, Belgium, France, Germany, and Ireland. The EU contributes to strengthening the social protection system at the country level in Sub-Saharan Africa through ongoing bilateral cooperation worth approximately €250 million.

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