LUSAKA, ZAMBIA, November 27, 2023 – The United States government, through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC), in partnership with the Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI) today announced a $2.5 million investment to help establish an Integrated Pathogen Genomics Laboratory in Zambia. As part of a broader shared vision to counter public health threats, this new Laboratory will help detect and respond to viruses and bacteria from across southern Africa.
The announcement was made at the 3rd Annual International Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA) co-hosted by Zambia, the ZNPHI and Africa CDC. The Integrated Pathogen Genomics Laboratory in Zambia is part of a broader effort to improve laboratory capacity across the 10-country southern Africa region starting in 2024. The $2.5 million catalytic investment from U.S. CDC and provision of intensive technical support build upon over 20 years of partnership with the U.S. CDC in Zambia to advance disease surveillance.
The commitment to advance pathogen genomics surveillance collaboration in southern Africa will significantly enhance the capacity for rapid and accurate pathogen surveillance, contributing to proactive and evidence-based public health responses.
U.S. CDC’s Principal Deputy Director, Dr. Nirav D. Shah, who is attending CPHIA, noted that CDC’s work in pathogen genomics, particularly in Africa and with ZNPHI, will expand upon existing genomics and bioinformatics capacities for respiratory disease readiness.
“Genomics, together with bioinformatics, are the processes by which we obtain gene sequences of viruses and other pathogens in order to monitor how they are moving through populations and from place to place and whether or not they remain sensitive to drugs or vaccines. Establishing an Integrated Pathogen Genomics Laboratory in Zambia builds upon the capacity within the Zambia Genomic Surveillance Consortium (ZGSC), which is composed of the ZNPHI, Ministry of Health partners, and a network of seven sequencing laboratories throughout the country, that was originally established to scale up SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance,” he said.
ZNPHI Director Professor Roma Chilengi echoed the value that National Public Health institutes (NPHIs) contribute to national security. “NPHIs are science-based institutions that promote health by conducting and coordinating public health functions and programs to prevent, detect and respond to public health threats.”
The 3rd International Conference on Public Health in Africa (CPHIA) is being hosted by AFRICA CDC and Zambia from November 27-30, 2023, under the theme – Breaking Barriers: Repositioning Africa in the Global Health Architecture.