One of AHB’s primary roles is to encourage and facilitate connection between organisations, businesses, governments, development partners and others with the goal of more effectively addressing the challenges Africa faces in health. We do this because partnerships move us forward in providing adequate, affordable healthcare to our citizens. COVID-19 has emphasised the need for this even further, making it clear that each of us on our own does not have the capacity to address the many challenges we face.
Mrs. Marloes Kibacha
Innovative partnerships, or the linking of organisations with overlapping objectives and goals in order to capitalise on the strengths and accommodate for the weaknesses of each, is the best way for Africa to create and implement solutions that are both effective and sustainable. A truly innovative partnership fosters awareness creation, understanding and knowledge-sharing in a way that builds towards actionable results that improve the African health sector and the environment in which it operates.
We have seen how partnerships have already made a significant impact on the way we as a continent have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP), a partnership between the African Union, Africa CDC, Afreximbank, UNECA, and others, responded to deficiencies in the supply chain when the pandemic initially halted travel. Necessary supplies were no longer able to reach their destinations, so this partnership was formed to fill the gap. This not only addressed the immediate crisis but paves a way forward for Africa to be more self-reliant moving forward when it comes to procuring necessary medical supplies.
COVAX was formed long before there was a vaccine ready and available with foresight of the barriers that many poor countries would face when it came to procuring the COVID-19 vaccine. This consortium is working to ensure that all countries, regardless of the level of their wealth, are able to gain access to vaccines for their population. COVAX has been further supported by partnerships such as the UNICEF collaboration with Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
As we look ahead to a vaccine rollout across the continent, it is encouraging to see the ways in which innovative partnerships are already being formed. For example, Ethiopian Airlines has partnered with Alibaba to create a cold chain route from Shenzhen, China to Addis Ababa, opening up a safe route for transportation of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Moving forward, innovative partnerships will continue to be essential. We need advocacy partnerships that incorporate public sector, private sector and development partners. Together, we can gain access to sufficient, timely, quality vaccines for Africa. AHB will continue to play the role of creating awareness, forming linkages, exchanging knowledge and providing a platform for potential partners to meet and learn from each other. Additionally, our technical advisors play a crucial role in ensuring that the partnerships we support work towards data-driven, actionable results that impact growth and improvement in Africa’s health space.
Over this past year, we have learnt many lessons. We experienced the vital importance of basic hygiene and were reminded that prevention is better than cure. We saw that the pandemic does not discriminate and, therefore, the world needs to show solidarity if we want to succeed in fighting this pandemic. We have also witnessed and benefited from Africa’s resilience when it comes to addressing public health challenges. It is clear that the experience of facing previous crises including HIV, TB, malaria and Ebola has given many nations the tools to effectively manage their public health. We need continued resilience as we look at the next phase of putting this pandemic behind us, while also working to prevent the next crisis. The best weapon we have against the virus is collaboration and partnership, capitalising on each other’s strengths and unifying our response.