Africa CDC and IHME join forces to train health officials

Published November 20, 2023

Africa CDC building in Addis Ababa

IHME partnered with Africa CDC to host a GBD training workshop at their headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“Africa CDC has made spectacular contributions to tackling epidemics and fighting inequities, positioning the organisation as the continent’s leading public health body,” The Lancet declared in an editorial. Recently, Africa CDC, an independent health agency of the African Union, and IHME joined forces to promote data science and evidence-based decision-making throughout Africa.  

Together, over the past year, the two organizations have hosted four workshops across the continent, collaboratively training approximately 140 people from 48 African countries, primarily individuals working in ministries of health and national public health institutes.  

The partners wrapped up the final session of their Africa-wide Global Burden of Disease (GBD) training at Africa CDC’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in October. The workshop, which included attendees from Central and North African countries, focused on understanding how the GBD study findings can be used to inform policymaking. Training attendees also learned about the science behind the research.  

At the workshop, Dr. Awoke Misganaw Temesgen, an IHME faculty member and leader of the Ethiopia Subnational Burden of Disease Initiative, spoke about how his country passed laws banning smoking in public places, such as restaurants and public transportation, given the GBD study’s findings. In Ethiopia, tobacco use is among the top 15 leading risk factors for death. Yet another way that Ethiopia is translating data into action, Dr. Awoke explained, is by reevaluating its health budget. Around one-tenth of the country’s health budget goes to non-communicable diseases, yet non-communicable diseases caused one-third of the disease burden according to the GBD study. As a result, the country developed interventions to address non-communicable diseases. 

Dr. Awoke Misganaw Temesgen leads a GBD training session in September, 2022 in Addis Ababa.

Participants brainstormed ways that they could use findings from the GBD study to shape policy decisions in their own countries. Representatives from the Democratic Republic of the Congo focused on GBD findings on maternal and newborn disorders as leading causes of early death and poor health in the country. To improve the health of birthing parents and newborns, they recommended strengthening health care during pregnancy and childbirth, reducing infections during pregnancy, and ameliorating maternal nutrition. 

Participants from São Tomé and Príncipe, the small island nation located off the coast of Gabon, focused on cardiovascular diseases, the country’s leading killer. For policy interventions to prevent deaths from this cause, they proposed programs to prevent tobacco use, promote healthy diets, and encourage exercise. 

Representatives from Mauritania present on setting health priorities using GBD tools at the October, 2023 workshop in Addis Ababa.

After the workshop concluded, Africa CDC representatives met with the Independent Advisory Committee (IAC), the group that advises IHME’s Board of Directors on the GBD study. Africa CDC presented information about their partnership with IHME and described the workshops that they co-hosted for health professionals throughout Africa. The IAC was enthusiastic about IHME and Africa CDC’s collaboration and encouraged the partners to continue to grow and deepen their work together.

Building on the successful workshop series, IHME and Africa CDC are discussing new avenues of collaboration, such as supporting Africa CDC’s efforts to improve the quality of health data in each African region and expanding access to educational opportunities for public health professionals on the continent.