Improving Community Resilience for Public Health Emergencies in West Africa

This project aims to establish an evidence base to support the establishment of a disease surveillance network in West Africa.

The Ebola crisis in West Africa was unexpected, and unprecedented in terms of its morbidity and mortality. It has exposed critical weaknesses in public health and personal health systems in the three most affected countries. The humanitarian cost of the epidemic has been huge. It has also provoked a major international response.

Countries and other key stakeholders are calling for:

  1. Coordination of partners, strategies, and interventions across affected countries.
  2. Improved communications flow across borders.
  3. Establishment of an informal disease surveillance network to enhance IHR implementation in the short, medium and long term.
  4. Guidance on long-term planning for how ‘Ebola specific’ solutions (eg new diagnostics, convalescent serum therapies, isolation wards , contact tracing and infection control) can be integrated and institutionalized into nascent health systems, with an eye to improving resilience in the face of the next crisis.

This project seeks to establish an evidence base to support the establishment of a disease surveillance network in West Africa, and to document how the alert and response system has worked in past epidemics to create a strong evidence base for the future.

West Africa Global Health Leaders Fellowship

Infectious diseases remain the overwhelming cause of mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. A fundamental missing piece in prevention and control of epidemics and pandemics is a strong policy framework for public health activities across sectors. Due in part to health workforce shortages, leadership responsibilities have been assigned throughout the systems to professionals who have a limited opportunity for training in policy formulation and implementation. 

Chatham House is launching a one-year fellowship programme that will enable senior managers from West Africa to hone their skills in order to create effective public health policy change in the region. This fellowship is targeted at individuals from West Africa with a background in public health senior management, who may not have extensive policy development and implementation experience. The fellowship, funded by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, will benefit those who wish to enhance their policy-making and leadership skills in order to effect change.

The fellowship begins in September 2016.