WHO celebrates big step forward in improving health security in the African region

BRAZZAVILLE, 05 July 2019. The World Health Organization (WHO) reached an important milestone globally today with the completion of the 100th Joint External Evaluation (JEE)—a voluntary assessment of a country’s ability to prevent, detect and respond to public health threats. Forty-two of these 100 countries are in the WHO African region. The remaining five of the 47 countries are currently in the process of carrying out JEEs, bringing the region one step closer to its priority goal of improving health security.

“Africa has more than 150 acute public health events a year, including infectious disease outbreaks and humanitarian crises. This is more than in any other region of the world,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “The Joint External Evaluation (JEE) is critical for identifying priority interventions indeveloping preparedness capacity and improving health security in the region.”

The JEE, which was first launched in Tanzania in February 2016, adds to other evaluation processes initiated by WHO, including the States Parties Annual Reporting (SPAR) process. All the 47 countries in the WHO African region have submitted their 2018 International Health Regulation annual reports using the SPAR (States party Annual Reporting) tool. The information from these has been used to develop country International Health Regulations profiles and to document progress on core capacities. Recent analysis has shown how the findings of both the JEE and SPAR are aligned with each other.

The insights into the technical capacities of the countries gained through the JEE process have facilitated the development of the National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS), and assisted country leadership and stakeholders to identify priority gaps, determine critical actions, and launch efforts to improve preparedness levels, and emergency management and response to public health threats. The implementation of the National Action Plan for Health Security is critical for improving health security. Investing in preparedness now is a highly cost-effective way to protect lives, safeguard livelihoods and allow communities and economies to prosper.

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