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US$100 million Africa Pathogen Genomics Initiative to boost disease surveillance and emergency response capacity in Africa

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Today, a group of public, private and non-profit organizations, led by the African Union Commission through the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), launched the Africa Pathogen Genomics Initiative (Africa PGI) in a US$100 million, four-year partnership to expand access to next-generation genomic sequencing tools and expertise designed to strengthen public health surveillance and laboratory networks across Africa.

Africa PGI will be part of the Institute of Pathogen Genomics, launched by Africa CDC in 2019, with a vision to integrate pathogen genomics and bioinformatics into public health surveillance, outbreak investigations, and improved disease control and prevention in Africa. The institute’s capacity will be strengthened to manage and provide technical oversight for Africa PGI.
This new initiative will build a continent-wide disease surveillance and laboratory network based on pathogen genomic sequencing. This network will not only help identify and inform research and public health responses to COVID-19 and other epidemic threats, but also for endemic diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, cholera, and other infectious diseases.

“Africa is experiencing high burden and frequent outbreaks of diseases and these continue to be magnified as the continent moves towards greater integration. The Africa Health Strategy 2016-2030 offers a cohesive and consolidative platform encompassing all commitments in the health sector and provides strategic direction to Member States in their efforts to create better-performing health systems for health security. Strengthening genomic surveillance systems is key for early notification and control of disease outbreaks.” said Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC.  “Use and integration of advanced technologies such as next generation sequencing into surveillance and emergency response programmes facilitates public health decision-making for better outcomes, as evidenced in two Ebola Virus Disease outbreaks and the current COVID-19 pandemic. The Africa PGI will help Member States build their capacities to operate strong surveillance and laboratory networks supported by advanced technologies to reduce the burden of disease and respond to outbreaks quickly and effectively.”

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