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US spends U$60 billion to address public health emergencies

By
Godwill Arthur-Mensah/Gideon Ahenkorah, GNA

Accra, June 28, GNA – Dr
Rebecca Martin, Director for Centre for Global Health of the United States
Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, has asked African countries to
develop rapid response mechanisms to respond to public health emergencies.

She said every year,
the US spent US$60 billion dollars to address public health emergencies or
outbreaks, which was higher than the US$4.5 billion spent on investments.

‘‘Prevention is more
efficient and cost effective way of solving public health emergencies rather
than responding to outbreaks,’’ she stressed.

She asked people to
report diseases to health centres so that there would be an opportunity for
diagnostic test and implement preventive measures to avoid widespread of
diseases.

Dr Martin gave the suggestion
when responding to questions at the maiden telephonic conference on Africa
Health Forum aimed at addressing global health security and protecting
Africans.

The event connected
media practitioners at the various US missions in Africa who highlighted some
major health issues confronting their citizens.

The forum was created
to engage Africans to put their ideas and energies together to resolve their
own health challenges.

Dr Martin said only 30
percent of the countries in the world had health infrastructure to respond to
public health emergencies or outbreaks.

She noted that health
security was a national security as it affected the economies of nations and
called for the establishment of mobile laboratories so that health workers
could move easily to centres of outbreaks for diagnostic test and institute
preventive measures.

She said it required
everybody’s involvement including civil society organisations and international
organisations to address public health issues.

‘‘You may have the
best intervention by way of vaccine or medicine but it’s up to the community to
take it, therefore, the engagement of the community is critical both in
prevention and in emergency situations,’’ she said.

Dr Martin said there
was the need for implementers of any health intervention to talk to the
community members, especially the key influencers to make sure the people
understood the information so that it did not disrupt cultures and traditions.

‘‘There is the need
for proper planning in terms of the communication component by working with the
people before introducing any particular health intervention so that the
targeted community would understand the value and cooperate,’’ she emphasised.

She therefore stressed
the need for African countries to develop emergency centres that would prepare
and respond to emergency outbreaks.

Dr Martin noted that
for the world to prepare and respond to health problems, it required all to
work together, not only for health problems or water and sanitation, but when
there was flood, food shortages and security issues, as well as other national
issues.

She stressed the
importance of consumers having the right information on medication in order to
make the right decision on their health.

Against this
background, she said, there was the need for key stakeholder engagements to
educate the populace on public health issues.

In addition, she said
there should be proper communication mechanism to educate the people by using
appreciate communication channels for easy understanding by the targeted
audience.

Countries must share
practices and experiences so that they could keep everybody safe, she said.

There are five
Regional Disease Collaborative Centres in Kenya, Nigeria, Gabon, Egypt and
Zambia and these centres are supposed to support countries to prepare and
respond to health emergencies.

GNA

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