Africa CDC Southern Regional Coordinating Centre (SA-RCC) has collaborated with the Government of the Republic of South Africa in launching the Southern Africa Regional Integrated Surveillance and Laboratory Network (RISLNET) in Cape Town, South Africa.
The inauguration of the RISLNET was graced by 80 representatives from Member States as well as public health partner organisations.
The RISLNET programme was established to support African Union Member States to effectively tackle public health issues and strengthen their existing capacities.
Africa CDC is an autonomous health institution of the African Union that strengthens the capacity and capability of Africa’s public health institutions and partnerships to uncover and respond swiftly and effectively to disease threats and outbreaks based on data-driven interventions and programs, and it has launched RISLNET in Central and Western Africa regions.
RISLNET was also aimed to solidify the goals of Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) and Events-Based Surveillance (EBS) by integrating surveillance with laboratory support, and by translating information generated from surveillance and laboratory data into specific public health actions.
While giving his keynote address, Dr. Eduardo Samo Gumo, Chair of the Southern Africa Regional Technical Advisory Committee (ReTAC) officiated the event stating that “diseases do not respect our administrative borders. Infectious diseases, outbreak and epidemics can rapidly spread across the region, continent and beyond if we do not act in a coordinated manner”.
Dr. Gumo further emphasised that the establishment and operationalisation of RISLNET is urgent and needed more than ever, because our continent finds itself at a critical crossroad due to the convergence of factors such as population growth, high migration, and climate change.
RISLNET will enable the integration of regional laboratory and surveillance network capacity in Southern Africa to rapidly identify and respond to public health threats.
It will leverage on existing experiences on health systems strengthening and collaborative research for enhanced region-wide capacity for disease surveillance, preparedness and response.
Speaking on the benefits of collaboration, Dr. Lul Riek, Africa CDC Southern Regional Coordinator said, “There is no substitution for working in partnerships, coordination, and provision of effective leadership.”
Following the signing and validation of the RISLNET Framework Member States representatives were urged to move forward as advocates and be champions of the RISLNET in their respective countries, to ensure speedy approval and endorsement by all Ministers of Health in Southern Africa.
The official launch of the Southern Africa RISLNET was attended by representatives from Malawi, Namibia, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini and public health partners including the East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA-HC).
Also in attendance were dignitaries from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), AMREF Health Africa, UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), COMESA, African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) as well as the World Bank.