GABON — On Jul 31, 2017, the African Union and leadership of the African Union Commission launched the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention with regional centres in Egypt, Nigeria, Zambia, Kenya and Gabon.
Gabon, which has an assessed risk of “very high” for infectious diseases, looks for major progress in reduction of emerging infectious diseases (EID) with this new collaborating prevention center.
Here are 5 facts about common diseases in Gabon that this push aims to control:
- At least 51 endemic or potential endemic viral infectious diseases have been reported in Gabon. Among them, 22 are of zoonotic origin and involve 12 families of viruses.
- Due to the high risk of Zika, pregnant women should not travel to Gabon as it can cause serious birth defects.
- In Gabon, rainforests cover 80 percent of its land with rich biodiversity of animal and plant species. Gabon’s economy has relied in the past mainly on petroleum exports, forest exploitation, and mining activities. Forest habitats are now exploited by logging and mining companies, tourism and hunting activities, which leads to intensified contacts between humans and wildlife and generate a risk of emergence of zoonotic diseases.
- By providing a four-story building for office space and emergency operation center, infrastructure, and human resources, Gabon has taken key steps to fully operationalise their branch of the Africa Centers for Disease Control.
- Gabon also harbors a biosafety level-four and several biosafety level-three laboratories that will provide strong support to the regional center in effectively responding to outbreaks of common diseases in Gabon within its disease-prone environment.
With continued measures such as the five listed above, Gabon is well on its way to improving the prevalence and treatment of some of the country’s most common diseases. And hopefully the gains made in Gabon will translate to and aid the other regional centers of Africa.
– Tucker Hallowell