A Team Europe health mission including Belgian Minister for Development Cooperation and EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety as well as other high-ranking officials from eight European Union Member States is visiting Addis Ababa from 5 to 7 February 2024. The mission, organised by the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the EU Delegation to the African Union, symbolizes the ambition of the Belgian Presidency of the EU and the European Commission to strengthen the partnership between Africa and the EU. The mission will follow up on the EU–AU summit of 2022 and identify building blocks for an even stronger health partnership between our two regions, implementing the EU’s new Global Health Strategy.
Belgian Minister for Development Cooperation Caroline Gennez and EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides will visit Ethiopia and the African Union, together with high-ranking representatives from Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Spain and the European Commission.
The mission will include high-level meetings on health and humanitarian aid at the African Union Commission and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
Building on the Africa-EU partnership on Global Health, it will kick-off the Belgian Presidency’s ambition to accelerate equal access to health, the foundation of societal well-being.
Currently, less than half of Africa’s citizens – some 615 million people – have access to the healthcare they need. Only 3% of pharmaceuticals is produced on the African continent, despite the fact that it bears 24% of the global disease burden and accounts for 11% of the world’s population.
The EU offers added value as a partner in health, based on its expertise and experience. EU and Member States institutions and agencies are already working closely with African counterparts on a wide range of health topics. These collaborations will be codified further during this mission and at the AU-EU dialogue in March 2024 in Brussels. Together, the EU and Africa are working to deliver better health for millions of citizens, to better prevent and tackle health threats, and to shape the global health agenda in areas like the pandemic agreement.
The right to health was one of the main takeaways from the 6th EU-AU Summit held in Brussels two years ago. This mission to Ethiopia and to the African Union offers an opportunity to consolidate the Africa-EU Global Health Partnership, particularly in context of the New Public Health Order for Africa, and the EU Global Gateway strategy and the “Team Europe Initiatives” delivering on it. This includes investments under the Team Europe Initiative on manufacturing and access to vaccines, medicines and health technologies in Africa (MAV+); strengthening the core and technical capacities of Africa CDC to strengthen the continental health security architecture using a One Health approach; scaling up sequencing-based surveillance and strengthening public health laboratory network capacities for outbreak detection and response; supporting evidence-based decision-making through Public Health Institutes; advancing digital health; developing social protection floors to increase affordability; and advancing the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights agenda; and overall strengthening African national health systems in response to an existing and rapidly evolving health burden as well as challenges related to climate change and emerging pandemics.
This high-profile mission will acknowledge the health sovereignty aspirations of both Africa – in alignment with the call for a new Public Health Order for Africa – and the EU and its new Global Health Strategy. Bringing into sharp focus the added value of the “Team Europe approach” and its cooperation with the African Union, it will seek to identify novel areas of cooperation, expanding the strategic health partnership between the regions. The trip will set the stage for joint work in the run-up to the Belgian EU Presidency high-level event on an AU-EU partnership on global health, which will take place in Brussels on 20 March 2024.
The AU-EU humanitarian dialogue will explore ways in which the EU and AU can further work together on humanitarian policy and action. In particular, the AU and the EU will discuss the establishment of the African Humanitarian Agency, health crises in humanitarian contexts, challenges facing International Humanitarian Law, access and protection, as well as forgotten crises on the African continent. These priorities will also be at the top of the agenda of the European Humanitarian Forum on 18-19 March 2024 in Brussels.
Caroline Gennez, Belgian Minister of Development Cooperation: “It is crucial we strengthen the partnership between the EU and Africa, and that we take concrete steps in that direction. Health is a policy area in which close cooperation and the exchange of knowledge provides benefits for everyone. We can only be healthy here in Europe if Africa is also healthy. African countries have extensive experience in the containment of epidemics; European countries have some of the best and most accessible healthcare in the world. Our collaboration on this front will improve health outcomes for countless people, in Africa and Europe. Our focus will be on building affordable, available and high-quality healthcare systems in African countries. We also reconfirm our commitment to support African governments, companies and scientists in the production of high-quality medicines and vaccines.”
Stella Kyriakides, European Commissioner for Heath and Food Safety: “With the EU’s new Global Health Strategy, a pillar of the European Health Union and the Global Gateway, we have opened up important new areas of partnership with our African partners in the area of health. Global health is now an essential pillar of our foreign policy, with the aim to deliver better health for millions, put the Sustainable Development Goals back on track, and strengthen health security in Africa, Europe and the world. The Global Gateway will be our investment arm to make this practically possible. Our partnership is already enhancing equity in medical countermeasures and boosting the capacity of our African partners to prevent and prepare for health threats, building on the solidarity that emerged through the pandemic.”
High-level representatives ‘Team Europe’ participating in the mission to Addis Ababa:
European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides
Deputy Director-General at DG INTPA Martin Seychell
European External Action Service:
Ambassador of the European Union to Ethiopia and Head of Mission of the European Union to the African Union Javier Nino Perez
EU member states:
Minister for Development Cooperation Caroline Gennez, representing the Belgian Presidency of the EU Council
State Secretary Azbej Tristan, Hungary
Vice-Minister of Foreign trade and Development Cooperation Steven Collet, the Netherlands
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Eduard Hulicius, Czech Republic
Ambassadrice pour la santé mondiale Anne-Claire Amprou, France
Director-General Global Health Dr. Ariane Hildebrandt, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany
Development Director for Africa and Asia in the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation Carmen Magariños, Spain
Adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Coordinator for Global Gateway Andrej Dogan, Croatia