Opening Remarks for Ambassador Mushingi – CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) Radisson Hotel May 14th 2018

Ambassador Mushingi
Opening Remarks for CDC and World Health Organization (WHO)
Public Health Emergency Management Regional Training at the Radisson Hotel
May 14th 2018

(As prepared)

Minister of Health and Social Action,
Representatives of World Health Organization,
Representatives of United States Government Agencies,
Participants
Members of the Press,
Honorable Guests,

Since 2015, with the support of the Global Health Security Agenda, the United States and Senegal have been working together improve the prevention, detection, and response to public health emergencies.  A key part of the response to any emergency, as shown during the West African Ebola Epidemic is a Health Emergency Operations Center.

The end of Ebola was just the beginning of a renewed focus on the health systems that will protect us from future disasters, and one of the most important systems is emergency management.  African countries continue to experience infectious disease epidemics and other public health emergencies.  The World Health Organization tracks an average of 100 public health emergencies annually in Africa.  We cannot prevent all outbreaks, but when we detect them, we can respond quickly and capably to prevent them from becoming epidemics.

I am thrilled to be speaking at this first regional training and exercise on Public Health Emergency Management, co-facilitated by CDC and WHO in collaboration with the Government of Senegal.  Participants from the Ministries of Health of 12 African countries, including Benin, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Mauritania, Mali, Togo and Senegal. You will strengthen your skills in emergency management, but just as importantly, as neighbors in the African region, you have an opportunity to exchange experiences and build relationships. An infectious disease outbreak in Cote d’Ivoire today can also easily become an outbreak in Burkina Faso and Guinea and other neighboring countries if we do not all work together.  The strong participation of 12 countries demonstrates the emphasis that your governments put on preparedness and the willingness to work together to respond to public health emergencies.

The Global Health Security Agenda has been a mechanism for the United States government, through its agencies the CDC, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and USAID, to join World Health Organization and the nations of the African region in protecting humanity from future disasters. While we know we cannot accomplish our goals in a few days, we are moving together on a road that will get us there.

On behalf of the United States of America, I want to thank you, the WHO, and most importantly the Government of Senegal for hosting this regional training for francophone African countries. The Government of Senegal has brought leadership and passion this effort and strengthened our health partnership in GHSA.

We should be proud of the gains made so far, but we must not stop until we have made the world safe from the threat of infectious diseases.  Thank you again, and I wish you much success this week and in the future.

Thank you