On World Health Workers Day, the African Union celebrates ASEOWA health workers

By African Union Commission (AUC)

The African Union joined the rest of the world last week in commemorating the World health worker week as part of the World Health Day activities. World Health Worker Day is celebrated on the 7th of April each year to mark the founding day of the World Health Organization. The Union dedicated this day to celebrating the team of health workers from the African Union support to Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA) who chose to put their lives on the line to fight the Ebola Virus from the front. Today their efforts are there for everyone to see.

ASEOWA health workers ran Ebola Treatment Units, and helped with community mobilization. The epidemiologists followed up on 49,493 people through contact tracing in 33 administrative units across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. ASEOWA provided training to 6505 local health workers, partners, community workers, and traditional leaders. The mission also assisted with the restoration of health services in 88 public clinics and hospitals between September 2014 and February 2015. The AU deployed 855 health workers to the affected countries drawn from different African countries.

“The pride of our solidarity however, is the work of the health workers of the African Union support to the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA), African health workers came, demonstrated their competencies, sacrificed and contributed to the lives of our fellow human beings, and they did all of this, without a single infection, due to the discipline, commitment and dedication that they displayed. , HE Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

The African Union support to the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA) experience gave an impetus to the formation of other response mechanisms like the Africa Centers for Disease Control (Africa CDC). This is a major milestone in the efforts to establish sustainable and resilient health systems. The Africa CDC will put in place a structure to support African countries in their efforts to effectively monitor public health, respond to emergencies, address complex health challenges and build needed capacity. The Africa CDC, as an African-owned institution, will provide a strong platform for technical coordination, ultimately strengthening public health systems, preparedness, surveillance and interventions across the continent. Furthermore, the Africa CDC will build capacity on the continent to respond to public health emergencies including outbreaks, man-made and natural disasters as well as public health events of regional and international concern.

The Africa CDC, in its 1st phase of its establishment has developed a fellowship to train 10 young African epidemiologists who will be deployed to the Africa CDC regional collaborating centers (RCC) to monitor, investigate and report on diseases in various regions. In addition, the African Union has set up the African Health Volunteer Corps for rapid deployment in the event of threat to public health on the Continent. The 10 Africa CDC fellows are currently undergoing training at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to end on 15 April, 2016.