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WHO Commits N$ 51.1 Million To The Health Ministry For EPR Programme

By:Hertha Ekandjo
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has committed N$51.1 million to the Ministry of Health and Social Services to help grow the newly initiated Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) flagship programme.
The WHO and the Ministry of Health and Social Services on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding on Emergency Preparedness and Response EPR programme.
The programme has been introduced to help improve the capacity of all WHO member states to prepare, detect and respond to public health emergencies.
During the signing ceremony WHO donated eight 4×4 multipurpose field vehicles including a well-equipped ambulance to cater for rapid response in emergency operations.
The WHO also donated N$110,400 worth of equipment for the digital learning platform, which is aimed at supporting mass workforce development for Strengthening and Utilising Response Groups for Emergencies (SURGE).
Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula emphasised that the initiative is designed to help Namibia, and the Ministry in particular, build capacities in areas of response readiness and coordination.
This includes areas of response such as disease surveillance, including improved data management systems and analytics, risk communication and community engagement, operations and logistics support.
“This initiative will help our country to address some of the most pressing health challenges we face, including emerging and re-emerging public health events,” Shangula emphasised.
The Minister mentioned that the implementation of activities under the initiative have commenced already especially in the area of workforce development.
He said the SURGE teams have been trained together with Rapid Response Teams (RRT) and the Medical Emergency Teams (EMT) have been established.
Moreover, Shangula noted that the teams are well-trained and stand ready to be deployed and provide high quality health emergency response within and beyond the borders of Namibia.
“I am informed that the team of operations and logistics support, has equally received training of international standards, to support public health emergencies operations,” he expressed.
Namibia is one of 12 countries that have been selected for the implementation of the first phase of the Emergency Preparedness Response Flagship Initiative in WHO the Africa region.
WHO Country Representative Charles Sagoe-Moses said there is an increasing recognition of the growing threat public health emergencies pose toward global economies and health security.
“Globally, the African Region reports the heaviest burden of public health emergencies with more than 100 major public health events taking place annually. Such emergencies and disease outbreaks often overwhelm already-weak health systems, interrupt essential health services and fuel unprecedented socio-economic disruption, undermining decades of hard-earned health and economic gains,” the WHO representativesaid.
He said the mounting health impact and ensuing economic crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the challenge of preparedness and response to the forefront of emergency operations.
Sagoe-Moses added the recent cholera outbreak in southern African highlights the need to continuously strengthen the emergency preparedness and response in respective countries.
There are three flagship initiatives which firstly, Promoting Resilience of Systems for Emergencies (PROSE), secondly, Transforming African Surveillance Systems(TASS) and lastly, Strengthening and Utilising Response Groups for Emergencies(SURGE).

Hertha Ekandjo

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