Dr. Frieden Visits Ethiopia and Participates in WHO Ministerial Conference on Immunization in Africa

Man speaking. (Embassy Image)Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, February 25, 2016 – Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), concluded his second trip to Ethiopia after participating in the World Health Organization’s Ministerial Conference onImmunization in Africa, emphasizing CDC’s partnership with the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health, and affirming CDC’s relationship with the African Union.

At the Ministerial Conference on Immunization in Africa, Dr. Frieden spoke about the importance of polio legacy planning.  “We have the opportunity to ensure that the lessons learned by the polio program continue to help children for generations to come,” said the CDC Director. “Polio funded-infrastructure and personnel provide benefits beyond ending polio – and can keep communities healthier and help them respond when new health threats emerge.”

While in Addis Ababa, Dr. Frieden also met with the FDRE’s Ministry of Health leadership to affirm coordination on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, influenza, and Global Health Security.  Since the establishment of the CDC Ethiopia country office in 2001, CDC has responded to the Ministry of Health’s requests for technical assistance, including developing the HIV/AIDS program, training field epidemiologists, and establishing surveillance for influenza and respiratory disease surveillance.  CDC Country Director Dr. Jeffrey Hanson reflected, “Ethiopia has been a cooperative partner for building the capacity of surveillance, laboratory systems, a workforce of field epidemiologists, and most recently a public health Emergency Operations Center.  Ethiopia is positioning itself to be a regional and global leader in prevention, early detection, and response.”

The U.S. CDC has also responded to the African Union’s request for technical assistance in developing the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This continental public health institute provides a platform for Member States to work together to tackle significant health challenges. Dr. Frieden met with African Union Commission’s Commissioner of Social Affairs Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko to recognize the AU’s leadership in addressing the complex health challenges across the continent, and with the initial cadre of Africa CDC Fellows to encourage the efforts to establish an African Surveillance and Response Unit and an Emergency Operations Center.  The collaboration between the African Union and the United States builds on a mutual interest of opportunity and development that can lead to expanded cooperation on public health across the continent.