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EU-West Africa cooperation on One Health: learning from COVID-19 to build a stronger partnership
December 8, 2020 @ 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
The German Development Institute (DIE), the Africa Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET) and the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) have joined forces to organise a series of dialogues (on digitalisation, trade, investment, climate) between thinkers and stakeholders from Africa and Europe in an effort to inform the AU-EU summit, with the support of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). In that context, we are co-organising a webinar on “EU-West Africa cooperation on One Health: learning from COVID-19 to build a stronger partnership”.
The current COVID-19 pandemic shows that global health can only be mastered jointly and therefore needs to be a core component of the political agenda. To prevent and better cope with future challenges of such dimensions, human and veterinary medicine as well as environmental science need to cooperate and combine their knowledge.
West Africa is a region with a high disease burden. The COVID-19 pandemic could represent an opportunity to upscale West Africa’s healthcare systems and foster One Health. This would allow EU and West African countries to move towards a more equal partnership in this area.
While the crisis could open new windows of opportunity by incentivising joint activities with a One Health approach, health does not seem to be a key priority in EU development policies. Instead, the main preoccupation – in Europe and beyond – is the economic recovery. However, if the EU is serious about strengthening its global health role in a post-Corona era, in particular in Africa, it will have to reinforce the One Health concept.
Regional health related mechanisms (e.g. the West African Health Organisation) are relatively advanced in West Africa compared to other regions due to the Ebola epidemic. West African states have taken quick and effective measures in response to COVID-19 and shown great resilience, despite the challenges posed by weak investments in healthcare systems and infrastructure. However, there are still enormous needs to improve the ability of countries to address major challenges and improve prevention capacities. In this regard, the EU can contribute and strengthen existing initiatives. The pandemic could represent an opportunity to build on West Africa’s experience in dealing with COVID-19 or Ebola, and allows to strengthen health systems by making use of the One Health approach. Mutual learning – including research and innovation cooperation – would not only contribute to better health outcomes and prevention of new health emergencies, but also to moving towards a more equal partnership between the EU and West African countries. This would require a dialogue at country and regional level based on shared priorities, integrating a more comprehensive view on health challenges as conceptualized by One Health.
This online expert roundtable will allow for an interactive exchange between European and (West) African stakeholders and analyse key challenges and opportunities in the ‘One Health’ context.
Panelist will address the following questions:
● What must be done to enhance cooperation between Europe and West Africa in the field of One Health?
● What is needed to promote the One Health approach in West Africa?
● Professor Stanley Okolo, Director General, West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO)
● Dr Oyeladun Okunromade, Head International Health Regulations/One Health, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)
● Dr Karim Tounkara, Regional Representative for Africa, World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
● Jan Paehler, Head of the Health Sector, Unit B4 Education, Health, Culture, European Commission’s Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO)
● Prof. Dr. Imme Scholz, Deputy Director, Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), Bonn