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Global Public Health Challenges: Facing Them in Africa

17 – 19 November 2021

The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic was met with a significant amount of concern about how African economies were going to cope, given their relatively weak position in several areas. The pandemic quickly exposed how fragile the health systems and institutions in Africa were.

The conference was jointly hosted by the University of Pretoria and the University of Witwatersrand and took place at the Future Africa Facility at the University of Pretoria. This year’s conference was hosted as a hybrid event with physical and online participation.

As developed economies moved increasingly towards inward-looking policies to counter the pandemic, there was a cascading amplification of risks faced in sub-Saharan economies, and this raised important questions about Africa’s preparedness to meaningfully address the myriad challenges that emerged as a result, formulate, and implement context-appropriate policies to contain the spread of the disease.

What is more, the pandemic provides a bleak reminder that in the global economy, challenges that emerge in one part of the world can easily assume a global dimension fairly rapidly. The inward-looking policies adopted by the economies of the global North in response to the current pandemic should serve as a reminder to African economies to begin to take responsibility for the search for solutions to future global public health challenges as they occur in the region. It is essential to build governance and health systems that make it possible for the region to collaboratively confront the next global health challenges more appropriately.

The ARUA 2021 Biennial Conference will bring together experts from universities, research institutions, government, industry, civil society, international organizations, etc., to discuss the different steps that African economies need to take in order to face global public health challenges squarely. In reflecting on the prominent lessons from the handling of previous and current pandemics, the medium to long term implications of measures and steps taken to contain the spread of the virus in Africa will be the focus of the conference. This will be done in recognition of the interconnectedness of the various issues involved in dealing with a pandemic.