Rwanda, WHO Partner to Boost Preparedness, Response to Epidemic

Rwanda has partnered with the World Health Organisation Regional Office for Africa (WHO AFRO) on three projects dubbed ‘flagship initiatives’ which are expected to strengthen national capacities for preparedness to detect and respond to health emergencies.

The five-year initiatives were launched on September 19 at the Ministry of Health (MoH) headquarters during a high-level meeting between the WHO AFRO team and officials from the health ministry among other partners.

According to WHO AFRO, the three flagship initiatives will initially be implemented in a few select countries, and later be scaled up regionally. Rwanda has been selected to participate in all three flagship initiatives.

The State Minister in charge of Primary Healthcare, Dr. Tharcisse Mpunga said that the interventions will help African nations in capacity building in terms of preparedness to fight against disasters in general.

In addition, Mpunga pointed out that over the past two years, there have been various lessons learned and challenges the country faced in terms of readiness in fighting against the pandemic amidst the global outbreak of Covid-19.

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Mpunga further talked about the impact of multi-sectors in responding to the pandemic, saying that the initiatives will help them in detecting, preparing, and responding to any pandemic just in case with the help of WHO.

He said that the UN agency will allocate $1 million complementing the government’s part in fighting emergencies.

Three flagship initiatives are the ‘Detect’ Flagship: Transforming African Surveillance System (TASS) which aims to reinvigorate stronger, integrated surveillance systems across Africa, and enable detection and action to prevent or timely respond to outbreaks.

Then ‘Prepare’ Flagship or Promoting Resilience of System for Emergencies (PROSE) that aims to strengthen the ability of countries to plan and anticipate choc events.

Lastly, the ‘Response’ Flagship… Strengthening and Utilizing Response Groups for Emergencies (SURGE) aims to ensure governments are equipped to mobilize resources and respond to public health emergencies within the first 24-48 hours.

Commenting on the initiatives, WHO country representative to Rwanda, Dr. Brian Chirombo pointed out that the world passed through a hard time due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the assessments were done to see how we responded globally and how WHO did its part in terms of coordinating emergency response.

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Speaking on the source of initiatives he disclosed that based on the assessments done during the Covid-19 pandemic and the role of WHO they come up with them to strengthen the capacity of countries.

In addition, he said that in terms of preparedness, lockdowns have shown that countries have to be strong and have expenses.

“WHO has come up with such initiatives basically to make sure that the country can be able to detect public health emergencies quickly and secondly be prepared for anything that comes and finally to respond,” he said

Moreover, Chirombo pointed out that the responding party will cover different areas and people who can respond but also the system includes Vehicles among other facilities.

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We have to make sure the system is in place, he added.

Chirombo also pointed out that WHO and government will sign an MoU which shows the commitment of the two entities in implementing these initiatives and also look at other partners that can be brought on board.

A high-level WHO AFRO mission will be in the country on a scoping mission for this initiative from September 19 to 23 and will hold meetings with partners to introduce the flagship initiatives.

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