BRICS, Africa CDC commit to work with business on future pandemics

The Ministry of Health, the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), Africa Health Business and the South African chapter of the BRICS Business Council co-hosted a successful dialogue to deliberate on future pandemics.

The parties met on Monday following last week’s BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit to deliberate on a potential African Union (AU) and BRICS framework of cooperation for the pandemic, preparedness, prevention and response (PPPR).

The meeting brought together BRICS member states including the newly invited members, Ethiopia and Egypt, business, civil society, development finance institutions, global health agencies and AU specialised agencies.

“The dialogue sought to elicit a collaborative framework for AU and BRICS PPPR that is actionable and implementable. [This is] by tabling concrete suggestions, drawing from the AU and BRICS collective experiences of dealing with COVID-19 and other pandemics, identifying the existing capabilities and acknowledging the gaps that would need to be closed for adequate pandemic preparation and response,” a statement read.

The attendees highlighted the reality of the shifting centres of global power, pointing out that the expanded BRICS family now represents 4.8 billion people, which is over half of the global population.

“Increasing human and animal interconnectedness, climate change and an increasing frequency of infectious disease outbreaks mean that the AU and BRICS’ ability to contain infectious diseases has a fundamental bearing on global health security.

“The realisation of this growing responsibility compelled AU and BRICS stakeholders to convene and begin a process towards a declared collaborative framework.”

Participants were further encouraged by the collective capabilities identified in medical and digital technologies, human resource potential, and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

They also observed that the Developing Countries Vaccine Manufacturing Network (DCVMN), which is comprised of manufacturers from BRICS member states, contributed to 60% of the COVID-19 vaccine products.

“The meeting considered the merits of opening up the entire expanded BRICS and AU market to all pharmaceutical manufacturers in the BRICS and AU regions.”

Member of the BRICS Business Council, Dr Stavros Nicolaou, stated that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed significant and vast global health inequities, particularly on the African continent.

He noted that unnecessary lives and livelihoods were lost, with the African post-pandemic economic recovery still proving to be challenging.

“Collaborative efforts across the African and BRICS geographies can enhance surveillance, research, infrastructure, and resource allocation to ensure a swift and coordinated response to future pandemics underpinned by a resilient African pandemic prevention, preparedness and recovery system,” said Nicolaou.

Putting people first

Stakeholders also acknowledged that the inequities that persist in many low- and middle-income countries, fragile health systems and inadequate financing pose a threat to pandemic preparedness and overall global health security.

“More work must be done to diversify manufacturing, support Africa’s manufacturing targets, ensure primary health care is fully developed as a foundation for pandemic preparedness, and to support last-mile delivery.

“The convening emphasised the importance of placing people and communities at the heart of all PPPR deliberations.”

Some concrete actions that were tabled were financing by establishing a BRICS PPPR fund through the New Development Bank and the need to convene at the Conference on Public Health in Africa.

“Emerging in the wake of a recent global pandemic, this dialogue arrives at a pivotal juncture. It underscores a collective need to fortify health security and adaptability, extending beyond national boundaries,” said Director-General of Africa CDC, Dr Jean Kaseya.

Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla said BRICS member states need to solidify efforts to promote digital health technologies across health systems to strengthen the sharing of information that may be useful for PPPR.

“At a country level, there is a commitment to develop and implement legislative measures for PPPR. I am glad that BRICS member states have reaffirmed and committed to implementing global, regional, and national actions to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, and fully address the direct and indirect consequences of current and future pandemics.”

Source: South African Government News Agency