Africa CDC launches rapid public health emergency workforce deployments tool
By Edith Mutethya in Nairobi, Kenya
China Daily

A girl wearing a protective mask looks on through a bus window, as schools reopen amid a nationwide coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown in Eikenhof, south of Johannesburg, South Africa Aug 24, 2020. (Photo: Agencies)

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in partnership with the International Health Regulations Strengthening Project of Public Health England, on Thursday launched a web-based tool to facilitate rapid deployment and better administration of a standby workforce for public health emergencies across Africa.

Dubbed AVoHC Net, the tool will facilitate easy and rapid access to updated profiles of members of the African Volunteer Health Corps, exchange relevant information with partners for public health emergency deployments, train experts on disaster preparedness, management and response, and access country-specific health profiles for risk mapping and vulnerability assessment.

"With this tool, which enables us to maintain a current repository of potential deployable workforces, the Africa CDC will be able to quickly deploy urgently needed personnel to any part of the continent with minimum delay. We are very pleased to support this work," said Doctor Ebere Okereke, the International Health Regulations team leader for the Strengthening Project of Public Health England.

AVoHC Net, which stands for African Volunteer Health Corps Net, will allow systematic expansion and capacity building for the health corps team, thus contributing to the achievement of the public health workforce development agenda of the Africa CDC.

"Africa CDC is deploying community workers and community healthcare workers in different countries to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, but we need to be able to do this more rapidly and in a more coordinated manner," Doctor John Nkengasong, director of the Africa CDC, said.

"We also need to know the training needs of the experts being deployed and be able to provide training appropriately. With AVoHC Net, Africa CDC will be in a better position to provide targeted workforce development support for public health emergencies as an integral part of the health systems strengthening agenda for Africa," he added.

The African Volunteer Health Corps was created in 2015 as a multidisciplinary standby workforce to support response to public health emergencies in any part of Africa, following the Ebola virus disease outbreak in parts of West Africa in 2014.

To date, membership of the team has grown to over 800 experts in epidemiology, laboratory, logistics, communication, social science, environmental health, animal health and incident management.