Lomé, Togo - June 2015 The African Cholera Surveillance Network – Africhol – aims to improve cholera prevention and control in Africa. The network, which takes the form of a consortium, meets annually in one of the member countries to discuss the lessons learned during the year and the challenges and prospects that lie ahead. The fifth edition of the meeting will be held in Lomé, Togo, on 10 and 11 June under the patronage of the Minister of Health.
Cholera is still a major public health problem in Africa in 2015. According to WHO, cholera is undergoing a resurgence, with an estimated three to five million cases and between 100,000 and 120,000 deaths annually. The true burden of the disease, however, remains unknown, largely because of the limited nature of the surveillance systems in most countries.
AMP, in conjunction with Africhol, is developing network of surveillance systems in eleven countries (Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Guinea, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zimbabwe) to determine the incidence of cholera in Sub-Saharan Africa. The data will be used to inform decisions on the best interventions for preventing and containing the disease.
Operating as a network
In addition to implementing activities in each country, the Africhol consortium forms a network for promoting the exchange of scientific expertise and technical papers, and for sharing best practice and outcomes.
Africhol brings together representatives and focal points from the ministries of health in the above eleven countries, together with representatives of national and international organizations involved in cholera control and surveillance in Africa: the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET); the EpiVac.net network; the Center for Vaccine Development in Mali; the Organization for Coordination and Cooperation against Endemic Diseases in Central Africa (OCEAC); the Southern African Center for Infectious Disease Surveillance (SACIDS); University Aix-Marseille II; the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); the West African Health Organization (WAHO); Johns Hopkins University; and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC).
The Africhol consortium strengthens the partnership between the above institutions to improve targeted prevention efforts in high-risk areas for outbreaks of cholera.
Annual meeting of the Africhol consortium
The fifth annual meeting of the Africhol consortium will be organized in Lomé in collaboration with the Togo Institut National d’Hygiène (INH) under the patronage of the Minister of Health.
This key meeting for members of the network will be an opportunity to share the epidemiological data of the member countries on cholera. As the Togo Minister of Health explains: “One of the main objectives of the Africhol project is to strengthen existing national cholera surveillance by sharing experiences. We welcome this wholeheartedly, especially at a time when our countries are experiencing an on-going resurgence in the disease. Togo will capitalize on the program to further reinforce actions for preventing and eradicating any cases”.
Two training workshops will also be organized within the framework of the meeting.
As Dr. Betty Njanpop, AMP’s laboratory expert, explains, the first workshop “will present the new laboratory test techniques to national teams. In addition, we will go over certain diagnostic aspects that quality controls indicate have shortcomings. The workshop means that everyone will have the same level of information and ensure the consistency of national cholera data”. The second workshop will provide training on the use of the new Africhol web data portal.
The observations emerging from the annual meeting of the Africhol consortium will enable national teams to make recommendations to their respective governments on the most appropriate and effective measures to be taken for the prevention and control of cholera.
About the Agence de Médecine Préventive (AMP) :
Founded in 1972, the Agence de Médecine Préventive (AMP) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting preventive medicine and public health worldwide. Along with its public- and private-sector partners, AMP aims to: enhance scientific knowledge in support of evidence-based health policies; support the introduction and use of vaccines; strengthen immunization service delivery and logistics; develop human and institutional capacity through tailor-made training programs; promote innovation in field vaccinology.
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