WHO Eritrea in cooperation with MOH held a workshop on Vulnerability Risk Assessment and Mapping from 27 to 31 May 2019 at Hotel Asmara Palace.
The main aim of the workshop was to strengthen the capacity of the country and partners to conduct risk assessment and risk mapping in the health sector in line with the WHO disaster risk management strategy for health in Africa and consequently to develop a multi-hazard public health emergency response plan to enhance emergency preparedness and risk management.
The workshop was officially opened by Dr Andebrhan Tesfatsion, acting Director General of Public Health from the ministry of health and welcomed all participants to the VRAM workshop. In his remarks, he noted an increase of natural and human disasters affecting human beings and their livelihood. He indicated that lack of resilience to disasters exacerbates the impacts of the disaster. He presented Eritrea as lacking in disaster management systems hence the need for the VRAM exercise, results which will inform actions to strengthen capacities for disaster risk management in the health sector and overall, contributed to disaster risk reduction. He recognized the institutions present and thanked the WHO for the financial and technical support provided to Eritrea to conduct the exercise. Dr. Tesfatsion indicated that over the last 30 years the natural and man-made disaster have become common and are negatively impacting the livelihood and economic growth of the world population. He said that although the impacts have been mild, natural and man-made disasters such as volcanic eruptions, drought and floods and other have been occurring in Eritrea.
The Officer in Charge (OIC), Dr. Yohannes Ghebrat made remarks on behalf of the WHO representative. In his remarks, he noted that there were about 100 public health events recorded annually in Africa hence the need for risk assessment and preparedness. He noted that some disasters could have grave impacts on international trade and travel and impacts on the health sector could impact both the people and national development. He emphasized the need for an integrated approach in addressing disasters and building resilience to ensure health security. He further informed the participants that the country had conducted the Joint External Evaluation of the IHR and developed the National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS) in the country and the VRAM exercise will build on the recommendations of the JEE results. The VRAM exercise he noted, would help characterize vulnerabilities and capacities for chosen hazards at sub-national level and results would be used in the development of an all hazard public health preparedness and response plan as well as contingency plans for specific hazards. He expressed WHO’s commitment to the process and thanked colleagues from the regional support for availing themselves to support the country in the VRAM process.
Dr Ngoy Nsenga, Team Leader of WHO for Eastern and Southern Africa, gave extensive overview of vulnerably risk assessment and mapping and its processes. Participants were drawn from various departments of the ministry of health, line ministries and UN Agencies. The meeting involved resourceful presentations, group work and intensive discussions. The workshop was also facilitated by Dr. Miriam Nanyunja, Dr Allan Mpairwe and Tasiana Mzozo from AFRO.
“Eritreans move mountains” said Dr. Namboze while admiring the commitment of the participants at the workshop. Dr. Josephine Namboze, WHO Representative in Eritrea, recognized the directors from ministry of health; participants from the Zobas, UN agencies, all participants and WHO AFRO and WHO Country Office colleagues. She reiterated the recommendation of the Joint External Evaluation for risk assessment and mapping and thanked AFRO for making the exercise a reality. Dr. Namboze thanked the participants for their commitment and expressed the country’s commitment to finalize the exercise. She noted that the hazards are both health and outside of health for instance drought and urged the group to appoint focal points from other sectors to join the VRAM team in finalizing the exercise in the spirit of all hazard approach. She reiterated the WHO’s commitment to risk assessment and mapping and emergency management including the development of the expertise in this area in line with recommendations of the World Health Assembly (2019). The VRAM exercise is also aligned to WHO’s re-organization and focus on one of the pillars universal health coverage; emergency management, health and well-being. The WR thanked WHO AFRO colleagues, MoH for ensuring success of the workshop, and WCO team for ensuring that the workshop was delivered smoothly.