WHO AFRO and the Government of Kenya
Your Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta,
Excellencies, dear colleagues and friends, It is a pleasure and an honor to be here for the launch of the WHO Health Emergencies Center and the new Center of Excellence for Staff Training.
This effort builds on a long history of partnership between Kenya and WHO, and of course between Kenya and the UN. DG Zainab Bangura was telling me about all the support the United Nations was getting in Kenya.
I would like to thank His Excellency for his support, not only to WHO but to the entire United Nations family.
President Kenyatta, I would like to express my gratitude and admiration for your leadership and vision for WHO, and for sponsoring this Hub, which will help build a stronger and more resilient Africa.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Secretary to the Cabinet, the Honorable Mutahi Kagwe, and the Director General, Patrick Amoth, and your entire team for all your support in realizing this vision.
I would also like to commend the WHO Regional Director for Africa, my sister, Dr Tshidi Moeti and her team for their foresight and commitment to moving the Hub and this vital center of excellence forward.
The African region experiences more than 100 health emergencies a year, more than any other region in the world, including outbreaks of cholera, yellow fever, meningitis, measles and Ebola, as well as humanitarian disasters such as the food crisis. present in the Horn of Africa. and the Sahel region.
The frequency of these events is unfortunately expected to increase.
Public health emergencies in the region often prove overwhelming for already weakened health systems and lead to disruptions in the delivery of essential health services and disrupt societies and economies.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Many of them are preventable or controllable through proven public health interventions.
We have significant preparedness gaps that we need to fill, especially in terms of training and building an emergency workforce.
A WHO analysis found that less than 10% of countries in the African region have the necessary workforce to prepare for, detect and respond to public health risks.
This is why WHO and the Government of Kenya have come together to establish the Regional Emergency Center and Center of Excellence on Health Workforce Education which we believe can make a difference on the continent.
The Government of Kenya has generously committed 12.14 hectares of land and five million US dollars for the construction.
The Government of Kenya is also generously providing WHO with office space to accommodate 120 staff for a period of three years while the Hub is being constructed. So the work has already started. We can’t wait for construction to be completed. And that’s why the three-year office space can help us start supporting the countries of our continent.
The office is nearby at the Kenyatta University Research and Referral Hospital.
The new Hub will build resilience and health security in Kenya, the region and across the continent.
From the Hub, we will be able to coordinate emergency response for the East Africa region and organize the delivery of vital medical supplies to where they are most needed across the continent.
The Hub will also be used to store medical supplies and equipment, which will improve efficiency and enable faster deployment of resources to the field.
While the physical building of the new Hub is still under construction, our teams are already hard at work.
We are working to support medical relief efforts around the Great Hunger Crisis in the Horn of Africa, providing supplies and coordinating health assistance efforts to more than 80 million people in seven countries.
WHO has scaled up its operations to help countries in the Horn of Africa facing complex challenges:
acute food insecurity;
the worst drought in 40 years;
the impact of climate change;
and rising international food and fuel prices;
all amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beyond the eastern region, the Nairobi emergency center will serve the continent’s 54 African countries, in collaboration with the WHO regional offices for Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Currently, it takes an average of 20 days to deliver supplies to communities across Africa in the event of an emergency.
The pre-positioning of supplies at the emergency center is part of WHO’s efforts to drastically reduce the delivery time to 72 hours.
The Hub can also be used by other UN agencies to deliver training in areas related to emergency and humanitarian crisis management, including conflict management, food security, logistics and recovery.
Finally, the Emergency Center will be fundamental to WHO AFRO’s flagship program to strengthen health security, being rolled out with the Africa Centers for Disease Control and other partners.
The flagship program aims to better protect Africans from health emergencies by the end of 2025.
The Hub will improve the capacity of African countries to prepare for, detect and respond to health emergencies, improve logistics capacity and strengthen health security at regional and global levels.
WHO will contribute its share of funds for the implementation and running costs of this regional flagship initiative.
The Center of Excellence will build Africa’s resilience to emergencies by building workforce capacity.
The Health Workforce Center of Excellence, in collaboration with the WHO Academy, will include an emergency simulation village and train frontline responders on topics such as infectious diseases and camp management emergency.
I am happy to see the Kenyan government and other countries in the region taking concrete steps like the Hub.
This will help implement the ten proposals for building a safer world outlined in the Global Architecture for Health Emergency Preparedness, Response and Resilience that I presented at the last World Health Assembly.
We were honored that Your Excellency President Kenyatta attended the World Health Assembly.
I am deeply grateful to President Kenyatta and the Government of Kenya for their leadership, generosity and vision in supporting the emergency center, for the people of Kenya and for our Africa.
Asante sana. Thanks a lot.