Potsdam Spring Dialogues 2015

CC BY-ND 2.0 European Commission DG ECHO/flickr

Disease Control and Prevention in Africa:
Current Reforms to Strengthen Regional Cooperation

26-27 March 2015, Potsdam

Conference language: English

- Participation on personal invitation only - 

The Ebola outbreak which began in Guinea in West Africa around a year ago has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization. According to the WHO, more than 8,000 people have died in the outbreak so far (as at 6 January 2015). The epidemic also poses a threat to food security in the affected region and is worsening its economic situation. In September 2014, in response to the crisis in the affected countries and the threat of a further spread of the disease, it was discussed by the UN Security Council – the first time that the Council has regarded a disease outbreak as a threat to international peace and security. Antibiotic resistance, neglected and poverty-related diseases and Ebola will also feature on the agenda at the G7 Summit in Bavaria in early June 2015.

According to experts all over the world, the reason why this latest Ebola outbreak has had such devastating effects is not only the high virulence of the pathogen itself, but also – and above all – the overstretched health systems in the affected countries, with poorly equipped hospitals and a shortage of appropriately skilled staff, combined with a lack of awareness across broad sections of society and largely uncoordinated disease control. Regional integration can play a key role in addressing these issues in future. As early as 2005, the WHO, in its International Health Regulations, urged member states to improve their transnational cooperation in this area.

The African Union (AU) and some regional organisations have now responded. Ahead of the 2015 AU Summit, a taskforce met in Addis Ababa in autumn 2014 to discuss key priorities for the establishment of an African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, to be functioning by mid 2015. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is also planning to set up its own Regional Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The West African Health Organisation (WAHO) was established some years ago and aims to promote a collective and strategic response to health problems in the region through the harmonisation of the policies of the member states, pooling of resources, and cooperation with one another and with others. And in Southern Africa, leaders met at an extraordinary summit in summer 2014 and pledged to adopt more intensive prevention and control measures. There are plans to set up a fund here to provide member states with immediate financial assistance in a health emergency.

The Potsdam Spring Dialogues will examine existing and new initiatives on an Africa-wide and regional level and will discuss more effective ways of preventing communicable diseases and curbing outbreaks in future. We will also look at experience from other regions of the world and at the role and possible contribution of international actors (e.g. the WHO and non-governmental organisations).


sef: Policy Lunch

The EU in Global Food Governance


Enough food is produced worldwide to feed humanity, yet more than 815 million people in the world are undernourished. What is the global vision for food and nutrition governance? What initiatives and reforms are being implemented? What role can the EU play?

sef: and CIDSE – International Alliance of Catholic Development Agencies will debate these questions during a Policy Lunch in Brussels on 12 July 2018. Register now!

:further info here

Strengthening Social Security in Africa


Social protection is a human right. However, it is only a reality for about one fifth of the people living in Africa. What initiatives have been established at continental, regional and national level in recent years? How successful are they and what are the associated challenges? Around 80 experts discussed these questions during the Potsdam Spring Dialogues on 19/20 April 2018. Read the conference report now!

:further info here

sef: insights 3-4|2018


During the Potsdam Spring Dialogues we spoke to two experts about innovative measures of social protection. Nkateko Chauke elaborates in the interview how a Basic Income Grant for the SADC region might work. Raquel Tebaldi gives recommendations how social protection might cover women better.

Read the interviews as sef: insights or watch them as videos!

:further info here

How to defend digital rights?


Internet freedom is threatened in many states by restrictions to net neutrality or by governments shutting down internet applications. But there are rays of hope. In different world regions, civil society is mobilizing to protect net neutrality or to fight digital rights abuses in the courts. What do activists’ experiences from Europe and Africa have in common? What can journalists and the media contribute?

sef: will discuss these questions with experts from around the globe at a roundtable talk during the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum. Register now!

:further info here

Strengthening Local Peacebuilding


The Berlin Summer Dialogue on 29 and 30 May 2018 will discuss the chances and challenges of local peacebuilding as the basis for sustaining peace., with a particular focus on the participation of women and youth. In addition, we will look at useful support for local peace initiatives from outside. Further information and the programme can be found here. Participation by invitation only.

:further info here