ETHIOPIA—From February 5 to 7, 2024, European ministers gathered with African Union leaders in Addis Ababa for a Team Europe Ministerial Health Mission to improve the health partnership between the two regions.

Caroline Gennez, Belgian Minister for Development Cooperation, and Stella Kyriakides, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, led this Team Europe Ministerial Health Mission to the African Union and Ethiopia, which also included high-ranking representatives from Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Spain, and the European Commission.

The African Union was represented by the AU Commission’s Deputy Chairperson, the AU Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs, and Social Development, and the Director General of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lia Tadesse Gebremedhin, Ethiopia’s Minister of Health, was also present, as well UN officials who took part in bilateral discussions with the team.

This mission that had been organized by the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the EU Delegation to the African Union, exemplifies the Belgian Presidency’s and the European Commission’s desire to promote Africa-EU cooperation.

This mission aimed to build on the EU-AU summit in 2022 by identifying building blocks for an even deeper health relationship between our two regions, and implementing the EU’s new Global Health Strategy.

The mission also include high-level health and humanitarian relief discussions at the African Union Commission and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

The mission included field visits to a safe house for survivors of abuse against women and girls, as well as the Armauer Hansen Research Institute. 

During the visit, the European Commission announced a €9 million funding package for the Africa CDC to reinforce the continental health security infrastructure through a One Health strategy from 2024-2027.

The European Commission’s HERA and Africa CDC also announced two €6 million grant agreements which  will be carried out in collaboration with the African Society of Laboratory Medicine and the African Public Health Foundation.

These projects aim at increasing sequencing-based surveillance and boosting public health laboratory network capacities for epidemic identification and response in Africa.

Enabel also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the African Centre for Disease Control.

The expedition also placed a heavy emphasis on humanitarian assistance with special consideration given to the health requirements of people affected by humanitarian disasters, particularly girls and women.

The EU and AU  also examined the current condition of the various humanitarian crises on the African continent, and how the EU and AU response could be more sensitive to the needs on the ground.

Speaking during the mission, Caroline Gennez emphasized on the need to strengthen the alliance between the EU and Africa, which would require close cooperation and knowledge sharing that benefits both continents.

She went on to say that this  collaborative endeavor that combines African countries’ considerable experience in epidemic containment with European countries’ access to the greatest healthcare to enhance health outcomes for countless people in both Africa and Europe.

She concluded by stating that  this collaboration is critical in developing cheap, accessible, and high-quality healthcare systems in African countries, as well as supporting African governments, businesses, and scientists in the manufacture of high-quality medicines and vaccines.

Stella Kyriakides, on her part, noted that the EU’s new Global Health Strategy opens up important new areas of health partnership that has the potential to improve health for millions, refocus the Sustainable Development Goals, and strengthen health security in Africa, Europe, and the world.

She went on to stress that through The Global Gateway, their investment arm, this cooperation will enhance equity in medical countermeasures and strengthen the capacity of Africans to prevent and prepare for health threats, building on the solidarity that formed through the pandemic.

These collaborations will be formalized during this mission and at the AU-EU dialogue in Brussels in March 2024, and the EU and Africa are working together to improve health outcomes for millions of citizens, better prevent and address health threats, and shape the global health agenda in areas such as the pandemic agreement.

This journey to Ethiopia and the African Union provides a chance to strengthen the Africa-EU Global Health Partnership, particularly in light of the New Public 2Health Order for Africa, the EU Global Gateway strategy, and the “Team Europe Initiatives” that deliver on it.

This includes investments under the Team Europe Initiative in vaccine manufacturing and access to medicines and health technologies in Africa, as well as strengthening the Africa CDC’s core and technical capacities, scaling up sequencing-based surveillance, and strengthening public health laboratory networks.

Others include promoting evidence-based decision-making, improving digital health, establishing social protection floors, advancing the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights agenda, and generally boosting African national health systems.

This high-profile expedition will recognise Africa’s health sovereignty objectives, which are aligned with the need for a new Public Health Order for Africa, as well as the EU’s new Global Health Strategy.

It will strive to explore fresh areas of cooperation, increasing the strategic health partnership between the regions, while emphasizing the added value of the “Team Europe approach” and its collaboration with the African Union. 

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