The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Saffie Lowe-Ceesay has stated that partnership between different sectors is essential to build a coherent alert and response system which cover all public health threats. She was speaking on Thursday at a day-long Strategic Partnership Portal (SPP) donor meeting in Kololi.
The SPP is aimed at bringing together countries, donors and multi-sectoral partners to build stronger and sustainable global health security. It also helps to promote inter-agency coordination, communication and collaboration as well as ensuring timely and appropriate response to emergencies.
PS Lowe further stated that in a closely interdependent world, global partnerships are essential to the successful implementation of the International Health Regulations (IHR) of 2005, noting that partnership is required between all countries to share technical skills and resources to support capacity strengthening at all levels as well as support each other in terms of crisis and promote transparency.
“If we can recall that in March 2014, West Africa has been confronted with an unprecedented Ebola virus disease outbreak; despite all efforts made by governments of the affected countries and the international community, the epidemic continued to claim many victims,” she stated.
She added that the development of the Ebola Virus Disease plan was followed by an activity plan in August 2014 following the Accra Special Emergency Inter-Ministerial Meeting in July of that year and the recommendations were based on the WHO Ebola Response Roadmap.
She added that the release of a new guideline and checklist by the WHO for countries in the state of preparedness led The Gambia to develop a comprehensive one-year National Ebola Virus Disease Strategic Plan reflecting the new imperatives of Ebola transmission in the sub-region
PS Lowe further stressed that her Ministry is very appreciative of the support of key partners during the implementation period, while expressing hope that this SPP project will focus on bilateral and multilateral investments made by donors and partners in The Gambia and international agencies.
For his part, the WHO Country Representative Dr. Charles Sagoe-Moses said the Ebola outbreak in West Africa did not only cause human catastrophe but also served as an eye opener for all of them. “In July 2015, the WHO in collaboration with member states and partners convened a high-level meeting in Cape Town, South Africa with the theme, ‘Building Health Security Beyond Ebola’, and one of the outcomes of the meeting was that member states and partners called on the WHO to take the lead in the coordination of global health security work and also provide a roadmap for this and develop a tool for donor and partner coordination,” he added.
He said the SPP is a real game changer as it helps donors and partners to know who is doing what, where and when. He noted that the SPP project should have been introduced ten years ago, emphasising that it would have saved them the trouble of searching for gaps and avoiding overlaps of funding.
The WHO Rep urged partners to commence this collaboration towards making the SPP a one-stop-shop for information on needs and gaps in the country’s plan for health emergencies.
Momodou Labbo Bah, an official of the Ministry of Health, said the world requires a global system that can rapidly identify, assess, contain and respond to public health threats and emergencies regardless of their nature, adding that to be effective and efficient one needs strong national and international collaboration as well as coordination.
by Arfang MS Camara