Promoting Health & Nutrition
Aspiration 1 of Agenda 2063 envisions a “A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.” To achieve this ambition, one of the key goals for Africa is to ensure that its citizens are healthy and well-nourished and adequate levels of investment are made to expand access to quality health care services for all people.
The AU works to ensure Africa develops and sustainably manages its health sector by putting in place the relevant sectoral institutions to support knowledge building as well as manage emergencies and disease outbreaks in the continent. The AU’s Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) was set up as the lead institution to support African countries in promoting health and preventing to disease outbreaks by improving prevention, detection, and response to public health threats. The Africa CDC seeks to strengthen Africa’s public health institutions’ capacities, capabilities and partnerships to detect and respond quickly and effectively to disease threats and outbreaks, based on science, policy and data-driven interventions and programmes. Africa CDC plays a key role in linking various parties through the continental Event Based Surveillance Unit (EBS), building capacity of Member States, field activities conducted through the Continental Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) as well as establishing Regional Collaborating Centres (RCC).
The AU aims to launch a health volunteer corps within the Africa CDC. The African Volunteer Health Corps will be deployed during disease outbreaks and other health emergencies.
Studies show that prolonged malnutrition, stunting and poor health contribute to increased school absenteeism and dropout rates, lower attendance rates, and overall decreases in cognition. This has brought to the fore the potential health and nutritional outcomes from school feeding programmes as complementary to education and learning outcomes. The AU works with member states to improve nutrition levels on the continent and has undertaken specific activities such as the Cost of Hunger in Africa Study (COHA), which has enhanced knowledge about the social and economic impact of child undernutrition in Africa and the interventions that countries need to take to address and remedy the issues identified as contributing to poor nutrition such as inadequate / nutrient deficient agricultural outputs.
In addition, to support learning and improved health and nutrition amongst school age children, The AU School Feeding initiative recognises that School Feeding Programmes have a significant impact on access and retention, and attendance, and in reducing drop-out rates among school-age children. In addition to the psychological benefits, these initiatives improve learning, cognitive functions, in-class behaviour, academic performance and ability to concentrate; and for marginalized, food-insecure families School Feeding Programmes improve household food security by increasing the food baskets of families in food-deficit areas. AU is working with members states to implement School Feeding Programmes which in addition to the benefits mentioned above, create revenue transfers to beneficiary families and a social safety nets for poor households benefiting entire communities through stimulating local markets, enabling households to invest in productive assets and impacting the wider economy by facilitating agricultural transformation through linkages with smallholder farmers. 1st of March is the official African Day of School Feeding in recognition of these programmes that are implemented daily in different African countries.
The Social Affairs Department promotes the work of the AU in the area of health and nutrition. The AU School Feeding initiative is led by the Human Resources, Science and Technology Department as part of the educational initiatives aimed at promoting school attendance.
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