The continent needs an expansion of modern medical infrastructure in the face of potential disease outbreaks, the president has said Russian President Vladimir Putin. © Gavriil GRIGOROV / AFP

Russia stands committed to an active partnership in healthcare with African nations, which are particularly vulnerable to the risk of new deadly disease outbreaks, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.

Putin made the pledge in a welcome message to participants at the first Russian-African International Conference on Combating Infectious Diseases, which is taking place in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, from April 17 to 19.

“Our program of assistance to African countries in sanitary and epidemiological well-being launched in 2023 provides for the delivery of ten mobile high-containment biological laboratories, training of over 350 African specialists, and conducting a series of joint scientific research,” the Russian leader said.

Burundi launched a specialist infectious disease research laboratory in March, fully equipped by Russia. According to Valery Mikhailov, Moscow’s ambassador to the East African country, the supplies, which include laboratory reagents, are intended to treat various forms of hemorrhagic fever, leptospirosis, and other dangerous infectious diseases. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report released in August, Burundi has a high burden of communicable and noncommunicable diseases, with the latter accounting for 37% of all deaths in 2019.

Previously, a team of virologists and military personnel from Russia’s Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Protection Troops deployed a mobile laboratory in Burkina Faso to assist the West African country with dengue fever screening. The move last November was in response to a mosquito-borne epidemic that authorities said had killed more than 200 people in the former French colony in 2023.

East African country opens medical lab equipped by Russia – envoy East African country opens medical lab equipped by Russia – envoy

On Wednesday, Putin said the continent needs “accelerated build-up of medical, scientific, and technological capabilities to protect the population against various infections,” adding that Russia is willing to collaborate in “this crucial healthcare area.”

The event in Kampala, one of several initiatives proposed at the second Russia-Africa Summit last summer, will bring together medical professionals, epidemiologists, and microbiologists from 20 countries. The African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the WHO regional office for African countries will join the specialists to discuss the most recent advances in the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases, as well as modern threats to biological safety.

“I believe that this joint work will yield tangible results and serve to protect the health of Africa’s population,” Putin stated. (RT)