AU-EU Health Dialogue on Strengthening Health Partnership between Africa and Europe

A successful Team Europe Ministerial Health Mission to the African Union and Ethiopia took place from 5 to 7 February. Co-organised by the Belgian EU Presidency and the EU Delegation to the AU, it brought together Belgium’s Minister for Development Cooperation and Major Cities, Caroline Gennez, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, as well as high-level officials from nine EUMS (BE CZ HU HR DE ES FR HU NL) and European Commission services (DGs INTPA and SANTE, HERA).

The mission showcased unprecedented European joint forces to bring the AU-EU partnership on health forward. It sent a strong political signal and received high media/social media coverage (see press release here and attached). Participants agreed to continue working together, as an immediate next step at two upcoming events in Brussels: the European Humanitarian Forum on 18-19 March and the AU EU health event on 20 March. The African Union sent a clear message to Team Europe about the need to deliver, notably on the path towards the future ministerial meeting and Summit.

The Team Europe delegates met with several high ranking officials from the African Union (the Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission, the AU Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs, and Social Development, and the Director General of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention). Bilateral exchanges also took place with Lia Tadesse Gebremedhin, Ethiopian Minister of Health, and UN officials. The mission included field visits to a Safe House for women and girls survivors of violence and to the Armauer Hansen Research Institute. An encounter with students at Addis Ababa University was an occasion to hold a candid discussion on the future of Europe and Africa relations.

Participants particularly welcomed the integrated approach of the Team Europe format, bringing together health and development cooperation, as well as its social dimension: a clear added value of the EU compared to other partners. Discussions with African counterparts testified of the good level of trust towards the EU as a strong, reliable partner in the field of health.

During the mission, the European Commission announced €9 million support package for the period 2024–2027 to boost the capacity of the Africa CDC to strengthen the continental health security architecture using a One Health approach. Two grant agreements between the European Commission’s HERA and Africa CDC worth €6 million have also been announced. These projects, which will be implemented in partnership with the African Society of Laboratory Medicine and the African Public Health Foundation, will scale up sequencing-based surveillance and strengthen public health laboratory network capacities for outbreak detection and response in Africa. In addition, Enabel signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Africa CDC.

The mission also had a strong focus on humanitarian aid. Specific attention was paid to the health needs of those impacted by humanitarian crises – especially girls and women. The EU and AU discussed the current state of the different humanitarian crises on the African continent, and how the response from the EU and AU could be more attuned to the needs on the ground. To better address humanitarian emergencies, the AU is keen on setting up an African Humanitarian Agency. Both EU and AU highlighted the need to scale up support for crises that lack international attention, and thus funding.