Dodoma – The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need for a robust country’s capacity to prevent, prepare for, detect and respond to public health emergencies of international concern in the African Region. More than a year into the pandemic, the human and the economic toll has been unprecedented, threatening decades of development gains. While the full extent of COVID-19’s impact on human health and related social and economic issues is yet to be seen, immediate measures must be taken to mitigate future public health emergencies.
To help translate lessons learnt from the pandemic into African driven solutions that reflect regional, national, and local needs, the World Health Organization has launched three flagship projects to improve the capacity of all Member States to Prepare (PROSE), Detect, (TASS) and Respond (SURGE) to public health emergencies.
The flagship projects will build upon existing infrastructure to put in place a well-organized partner support system that augments national capacity when needed, incorporating lessons learned from COVID-19, Ebola and other health emergencies. Tanzania is among the 17 countries earmarked for roll out in the first phase of the initiative.
A scoping mission was received in the country on 8 November 2022 to introduce the SURGE and TASS flagships to stakeholders; seek to understand the country context, identify the strengths, gaps and opportunities to leverage for accelerating progress towards health security; and discuss the roll out plan for the flagships.
During the mission, WHO handed over 8 vehicles to the Ministry of Health to facilitate in-country teams of highly skilled, resourced, and well-coordinated professionals arrive at a location of disasters or disease outbreaks within the shortest time possible (within 72 hours) and coordinating a rapid response to minimize their impact.
“The donation of the vehicles underscores the commitment of the World Health Organization to roll out the Flagship initiative in Tanzania. Logistics is key in preparedness, to ensure response team arrive on location timely with all needed supplies,” said the Acting WHO Country Representative to Tanzania, Dr. Zabulon Yoti.
Receiving the vehicles, the Minister of Health, Honourable Ummy Mwalimu was grateful for the continued collaboration and support from WHO.
“On behalf of the Government, I am expressing our sincere gratitude to WHO’s technical and financial support that contributes to strengthening national capacity to provide quality health services and respond to health emergencies,” said Hon. Ummy.
The donation of vehicles is part of the response flagship aiming at Strengthening and Utilizing Response Groups for Emergencies (SURGE) by ensuring that governments are equipped to mobilize resources and respond to public health emergencies within the first 24 – 48 hours.
Specifically, the initiative will support establishment and strengthening of national level teams of trained local multi-disciplinary human resources, improve readiness and response coordination capacities at the national and sub-national level, and strengthen existing infrastructure for rapid and effective emergency response at the regional, national and sub-national level.