Amit Thakker, executive chairman of the Africa Health Business.

NAIROBI– Strengthening the resilience of Africa’s public health systems through research, adequate funding, and strategic partnerships is key to enhancing the continent’s response to future pandemics, an expert said on Monday.

Amit Thakker, executive chairman of the Africa Health Business, a pan-African health advisory firm based in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, said resilient health systems are a prerequisite as the risk of pandemics and lethal pathogens looms large in the continent.

“In order to prepare better for future pandemics, there is a need to strengthen national health institutions,” Thakker said during a virtual interview with Xinhua in Nairobi.

The African continent should draw lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic to revamp its public health systems, and enhance their capacity to tame the intensity of future disease outbreaks, said Thakker.

According to Thakker, the pandemic has been a wake-up call for Africa to strengthen its preparedness for future health risks besides promoting domestic manufacturing of strategic commodities like vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics.

“We also need stronger national health emergency strategies, support African institutions, learn from each other and devise a harmonious approach to keep the continent protected,” he added.

Thakker said Africa’s private sector complemented state-led pandemic response through the procurement of personal protective equipment, reagents for rapid tests, and therapeutics.

He said the private sector leveraged its prowess in logistics, cold chain management, and innovation to ensure the delivery of anti-COVID supplies in the continent was seamless.

Thakker called for a continental health emergency strategy to inform policymakers on how to implement effective pandemic response measures, including lockdowns and commodities supply.

He stressed that research, innovation, cross-country learning, and enhancing institutional collaboration will be key to guiding future pandemic response in Africa.

Thakker said the second edition of the International Conference on Public Health in Africa, slated for Dec. 13-15 in the Rwandan capital of Kigali, presents an ideal opportunity to design new strategies for responding effectively to future health emergencies in the continent.

More than 3,000 delegates, including health ministers, policymakers, industry executives, researchers, and campaigners, will attend the three-day forum, which seeks to chart a resilient pathway for the continent’s public health systems.

Thakker said some of the discussions at the conference will focus on seeking clarity on the proposed new public health order for the continent alongside strengthening the resilience of institutions charged with pandemic response. – Xinhua