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Health Promot Perspect. 2021;11(1): 20-31.
doi: 10.34172/hpp.2021.04
PMID: 33758752
PMCID: PMC7967135
Scopus ID: 85103177706
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Systematic Review

Politics of disease control in Africa and the critical role of global health diplomacy: A systematic review

Vijay Kumar Chattu 1,2,3* ORCID logo, W. Andy Knight 4 ORCID logo, Anil Adisesh 1,2 ORCID logo, Sanni Yaya 5,6 ORCID logo, K. Srikanth Reddy 7,8 ORCID logo, Erica Di Ruggiero 9 ORCID logo, Obijiofor Aginam 10 ORCID logo, Garry Aslanyan 9,11 ORCID logo, Michael Clarke 12 ORCID logo, M. Rashad Massoud 13 ORCID logo, Ashish Jha 14,15 ORCID logo

1 Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
2 Division of Occupational Medicine, St. Michael’s Hospital, Unity Health Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
3 Institute of International Relations, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago
4 Department of Political Science, Faculty of Arts, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
5 School of International Development and Global Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
6 The George Institute for Global Health, The University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
7 Bruyère Research Institute, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada
8 WHO Collaborating Centre for Knowledge Translation and Health Technology Assessment in Health Equity, Ottawa, Canada
9 Centre for Global Health, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
10 International Institute for Global Health, United Nations University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
11 Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva, Switzerland.
12 Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
13 USAID Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (ASSIST) and University Research Co.,LLC, Center for Human Service, Maryland, USA
14 Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Global Health Institute, Cambridge, MA, USA
15 Brown University School of Public Health, Providence, RI, USA
*Corresponding Author: Email: drvkumar.ch@gmail.com


Background: Africa is facing the triple burden of communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and nutritional disorders. Multilateral institutions, bilateral arrangements, and philanthropies have historically privileged economic development over health concerns. That focus has resulted in weak health systems and inadequate preparedness when there are outbreaks of diseases. This review aims to understand the politics of disease control in Africa and global health diplomacy’s (GHD’s) critical role.

Methods: A literature review was done in Medline/PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, Embase, and Google scholar search engines. Keywords included MeSH and common terms related to the topics: “Politics,” “disease control,” “epidemics/ endemics,” and “global health diplomacy” in the “African” context. The resources also included reports of World Health Organization, United Nations and resolutions of the World Health Assembly (WHA).

Results: African countries continue to struggle in their attempts to build health systems for disease control that are robust enough to tackle the frequent epidemics that plague the continent. The politics of disease control requires the crafting of cooperative partnerships to accommodate the divergent interests of multiple actors. Recent outbreaks of COVID-19 and Ebola had a significant impact on African economies. It is extremely important to prioritize health in the African development agendas. The African Union (AU) should leverage the momentum of the rise of GHD to (i) navigate the politics of global health governance in an interconnected world(ii) develop robust preparedness and disease response strategies to tackle emerging and reemerging disease epidemics in the region (iii) address the linkages between health and broader human security issues driven by climate change-induced food, water, and other insecurities (iv) mobilize resources and capacities to train health officials in the craft of diplomacy.

Conclusion: The AU, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), and African Centres for Disease Control should harmonize their plans and strategies and align them towards a common goal that integrates health in African development agendas. The AU must innovatively harness the practice and tools of GHD towards developing the necessary partnerships with relevant actors in the global health arena to achieve the health targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.

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Submitted: 30 Sep 2020
Revision: 13 Dec 2020
Accepted: 13 Dec 2020
ePublished: 07 Feb 2021
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