On Tuesday December 15, 2020, Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) hosted the official launch of its U.S.-Africa Health Security and Resilience Initiative. The high-level virtual event showcased CCA’s vision for the 2-year initiative and convened U.S. and African business executives, senior government officials and leaders from multilateral institutions to explore lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and inform a path forward for U.S.-Africa collaboration on strengthening health security on the continent.
Florizelle Liser, President and CEO of CCA kicked off the event with a brief introduction of CCA’s new health initiative saying it “will serve as a platform that fosters linkages, information exchange and collaboration to drive investment and trade crucial to the development of Africa’s health systems.” Ms. Liser said, “The Initiative is centered around three focus areas that have been identified as critical pillars to strengthening Africa’s health security, which are Universal Health Coverage (UHC) implementation in the region; disease response and management preparedness and increased trade and investment in Africa’s health sector.”
Ms. Liser thanked the Initiative’s seed funder, Pfizer Inc. saying, “Your support shows how committed you are to CCA and to strengthening and advancing Africa’s health systems as well as commercial ties between the U.S. and Africa.” Ms. Liser also thanked Gilead Sciences and Medland Health Services for their sponsorship of the initiative as well as CCA’s health members for their contributions to its development.
Caroline Roan, President, The Pfizer Foundation and Vice President, Global Health and Patient Access, Pfizer Inc. provided special remarks. Ms. Roan emphasized the importance of collaboration saying, “In going forward, it will be vital that the private sector collaborate with institutions and support the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area to enable widespread delivery of goods and services including those that are healthcare related and the continued harmonization of regulations.”
Dr. John N. Nkengasong, Director, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention at the African Union provided keynote remarks and stressed the importance of multisectoral private sector partnerships with the public sector and other key stakeholders. Dr. Nkengasong said, “we are calling on strong partnerships with the private sector, strong partnerships with the philanthropic sector, and strong partnerships with the bilateral and multilaterals.”
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Board Chair of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, also gave keynote remarks. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala highlighted the role of multilateral institutions, specifically the role of COVAX, in the fight against Covid-19 saying, “coordinated by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and the World Health Organization (WHO), COVAX is the only truly global solution because it’s the only one to ensure that people in all countries receive rapid, fair and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccinations.” She explained that through COVAX, nearly one billion doses will be allocated to low- and middle-income countries supporting equitable access to the Covid-19 vaccine.”
Following the keynote remarks, Dr. Jeffrey L. Sturchio, CEO of Rabin Martin and Board Chair of CCA moderated a high-level panel titled, “Strengthening Africa’s Health Security: Lessons Learned from COVID-19.”
The panel session highlighted lessons learned from the pandemic as well as best practices and policies that support enhanced healthcare financing and strengthening service delivery on the continent. Thokozile Ruzvidzo, Director of Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division, U.N. Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) noted that COVID-19 has underscored the importance of three key areas: increased use of digital technology, increased access to affordable and quality medicine and strengthened government structures. Nafisa Jiwani, Senior Advisor and Managing Director of Health Initiatives for the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) discussed the DFC’s Health and Prosperity Initiative, a $2 billion program designed to bolster health systems and support infrastructure development, prioritizing Africa.
Additionally, both Dr. Papa Salif Sow, Vice President of Program Development & Management, Global Patient Solutions for Gilead Sciences and Dr. Mohamed El Sahili CEO of Medland Health Services commented on the effect COVID-19 has had on non-COVID patients and healthcare accessibility. Dr. Salif said, “Because of lockdown restrictions, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on other diseases like HIV. People were not able to go for consultations.” Dr. El Sahili emphasized the importance of people in rural areas having equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
The session concluded with remarks from Marianne Abo El Kheir, Medtronic’s Head of Emerging Africa Division. Ms. Abo El Kheir discussed the goals of the U.S.-Africa Health Security and Resilience Initiative and noted that “Medtronic has been committed to improving clinical outcomes, expanding access, and optimizing cost and efficiency which are fundamental to all healthcare systems around the world. We believe very strongly in the underlying principles behind Universal Healthcare…CCA and its members aim to boost global health security by improving health infrastructure in the region, enhancing communities’ access to basic and affordable healthcare, and strengthening capacity of healthcare supply chains.”
The U.S.-Africa Health Security and Resilience Initiative is generously sponsored by, Pfizer Inc., Gilead Sciences and Medland Health Services. The Initiative’s Task Force is co-chaired by Dr. Jeffrey L. Sturchio, CEO of Rabin Martin and Board Chair of CCA and Angela Wasunna, Vice President, Global Policy, Emerging Markets, Pfizer Inc and a member of CCA’s Board of Directors. For more information on the initiative, visit CCAHealthInitiative.org.
About Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) Corporate Council on Africa is the leading U.S. business association focused solely on connecting business interests between the United States and Africa. CCA uniquely represents a broad cross section of member companies from small and medium size businesses to multinationals as well as U.S. and African firms. Learn more at www.CorporateCouncilonAfrica.com.