Africa—Tackling Deadly Diseases in Africa (TDDA) programme

Client: Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

Duration: 2019-2022

Region: Sub-Saharan Africa

Country: Regional

Solutions: Global Health

Epidemics are a global threat, killing millions of people each year. Strong health systems need strong institutions, infrastructure, surveillance systems, and well-trained and equipped staff. Without them, disease outbreaks can quickly become epidemics and then pandemics, which devastate lives and livelihoods.

The Tackling Deadly Diseases in Africa (TDDA) programme worked with governments and communities across sub-Saharan Africa, empowering them to achieve their own ambitions in health security. We delivered practical changes that strengthened health systems, crisis preparedness, and emergency response mechanisms in Cameroon, Chad, Côte D’Ivoire, Mali, and Uganda.

“Pandemics are the greatest single threat to global health today. TDDA is a flagship programme of the UK Government helping to protect populations and economies around the world, including in the UK.” -Graham Gass, Group Head, Africa Regional Department, UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

We worked closely with the African Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation’s African Regional Office (WHO/AFRO) to reinforce regional efforts at harmonization and cross-border collaboration.

Expert Support on the Ground

TDDA provided technical expertise and targeted operational support through experts on the ground. The programme was shaped by international standards including International Health Regulations, Joint External Evaluations, and National Action Plans for Health Security, informed by our nuanced understanding of circumstances on the ground. We helped our focus countries bridge the gap between high-level policy guidelines and operational improvements that really make a difference. Our work reflected the specific challenges and practical realities in each country, thanks to our continuously updated political economy analyses.

Preventing Animal-to-Human Disease Transmission

Zoonotic diseases, in which pathogens jump from animals to humans, account for 75 percent of all new infectious diseases. With this clear global threat in mind, TDDA supported the One Health approach to improve coordination between human, animal, and environmental health. We provided advice to strengthen One Health policies and coordination across different government ministries and agencies.

COVID-19—How TDDA Responded

In 2020, our work to help build emergency response mechanisms was adapted and mobilised to respond to COVID-19. Rather than focusing solely on pre-crisis preparedness, we provided operational and financial help to community organisations delivering urgent and vital support at scale. In Cameroon, for example, we widened access to free testing, identifying  23.7 percent of the country’s 21,000 confirmed infections as of September 30, 2020. Thanks to our ‘feet on the ground’ in our five focus countries, TDDA was uniquely placed to assist with COVID-19 vaccine rollout, including the UN-led COVAX programme.

Making a Lasting Difference—Locally, Regionally, and Globally

TDDA tackled the systemic causes of health insecurity, not just the symptoms. Instead of fighting fires, this programme helped equip countries to manage disease outbreaks and other health threats before they become public health crises. Our work showed that collective efforts can make a real difference, even in countries facing significant challenges.

VIDEO: See how we helped build the role of civil society organisations in health security in Chad:

Sample Activities

  • Coordinate with government ministries and civil society organisations to establish shared goals for health security.
  • Employ tools such as Joint External Evaluations and One Health simulations to help set national health priorities, using the focus on infectious diseases to accelerate progress towards universal health coverage and international compliance.
  • Strengthen health surveillance, including processes at border entry points, to ensure decision-makers have the data they need to quickly identify and manage disease outbreaks, and better coordinate actions with neighbouring countries.
  • Map resources and gaps in National Action Plans with WHO/AFRO and systematising Events Based Surveillance with Africa CDC.
  • Build local emergency response capacity by engaging communities in efforts to prepare and react rapidly, so that local outbreaks do not become epidemics.
  • Pre-approve suppliers so that countries can access and deploy resources quickly in emergencies, where needed.
  • Provide global stakeholders, including the United Kingdom, with timely information enabling standby teams of emergency response specialists to mobilise in-country in the event of outbreaks.

Select Results

  • Provided emergency COVID-19 training for more than 600 community-based medical staff in Côte D’Ivoire through the Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene, with technical and financial support from TDDA. Training was centred on the city of Abidjan, where the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the hardest.
  • Supported scale-up of COVID-19 diagnostic activities in Cameroon and widened access to free testing services beyond the capital Yaoundé to six high-risk regions.
  • Helped prevent the spread of diseases in Uganda by improving the skills of border officials. We are supporting the Ministry of Health to provide targeted supervision, on-the-job training and mentoring of 60 health workers at more than 40 official points of entry. 
  • Facilitated Uganda’s Agriculture Ministry to conduct disease investigations for Rift Valley fever, anthrax, and brucellosis among animals, with the aim of predicting and preventing these diseases which threaten human health and food production. Also, workshops on the WHO’s Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response framework were provided for national trainers working across Uganda’s public, animal, and environmental health organisations and ministries, supporting efforts to reduce deaths from communicable and non-communicable diseases.


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