Eritrea launched the National Health Security Action Plan: 2017- 2021 at Asmara Palace on 27 March 2018. The Honorable Minister of Health, Ms Amina Nurhussien, launched the five year National Action Plan for health security. The function drew dignitaries from government, Honorable Ministers of the Government of State of Eritrea from various sectors, Ambassadors, and UN Agency Representatives. Other participants included: the Director General and Directors of MoH, ministry of agriculture and veterinary services, immigration and border control, civil society organizations, and technical committee members. In her opening remarks, the Minister emphasized the strategic direction that ensures efforts to improve health security nationwide over the next five years, guided by a common vision, goal, objectives and strategies. All these were developed based on sound evidence and was carried out in an efficient and coordinated effort by all stakeholders.
The WHO Representative in Eritrea, Dr Josephine Namboze, emphasized the role of the joint external evaluation (JEE) noting Eritrea’s achievements in the 19 Technical Areas and the specific recommendations made. These were the basis for the development of the plan currently being launched. She further emphasized the need for continual coordination among the different sectors of government, addressing all the issues under the ambit of the “One Health” approach.
Therefore, it is paramount that Government officials, researchers, training institutions and public health and other workers across sectors at all levels-subnational, national, regional and global implement joint responses to health threats. She also noted the strengthening of resilience of communities and health systems in countries would go a long way in facilitating faster achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and subsequently health security.
The Director General of Medical Services, Mr. Berhane Ghebretinsae presented on over view of the Eritrean health systems. He emphasized the achievements in each of the six building blocks, namely: Leadership and Governance, Health workforce, Medical products, Vaccines, and Technologies, Health Financing, Information Systems, and Service Delivery. Dr Araya Berhane, Director of the communicable Diseases Control Division presented the summary of the Eritrea National Action Plan for Health Security, including the vision, mission, objectives and strategic actions followed by the detailed monitoring and evaluation and costing of the plan by Dr Andebrehan Tesfatsion, acting Director General of Public Health.
The country has gone through the different stages starting from the Joint External Evaluation (JEE) to the launching of the National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS). At the launch, several presentations were made, followed by open and candid discussions, comments, suggestions, questions and answers.
This launch was supported by technical officers from WHO AFRO and Geneva. Dr Ambrose Talisuna, regional advisor for health security and international health regulations, shared experiences on JEE and NAPHS implementation in African Countries. Dr Stella Chungong from WHO/HQ made a presentation on One Health Approach and Establishment of Incident Management System (IMS) and the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). They both congratulated Eritrea for launching the NAPHS and assured the country that the WHO team will continue its support to the country for the implementation and monitoring the plan.
Participants agreed in the Way Forward on using the “One Health Approach” in the implementation of the NAPHS and also setting up of the multi-sectorial steering committee and Emergency Operations Center as key in the first phase of implementation.