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SUPPORT TO ECOWAS FOR IMPROVEMENT OF SURVEILLANCE AND RESPONSE NETWORKS AGAINST EPIDEMICS IN THE MEMBER STATE
The West African Health Organisation (WAHO) has launched the project, “Support to the Regional Centre for Surveillance and Disease Control in the ECOWAS zone” aimed at preventing a reoccurence of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) epidemic in the region. A contract signed between the European Union and Germany’s international cooperation agency, GIZ GmbH, integrates the EU contribution into the already running regional pandemic prevention project in the ECOWAS zone (RPPP).
The European Union is co-funding this multi donor action with 4 million Euros in addition to 12 million Euros funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development BMZ. The project is implemented by GIZ.
Local authorities, the European Union and GIZ were present at the launching ceremony in Bobo Dioulasso – the city of WAHO headquarters - as well as other international technical and financial partners supporting WAHO in epidemic prevention and control, like World Bank, African Development Bank, KfW, AFD and US CDC took part. At least 11, 300 citizens of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia lost their lives to the Ebola epidemic of 2014 and 2015. In order to prevent a reoccurrence of this kind of tragedy from West Africa, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union (EU) are collaborating in the implementation of the support project to the Regional Centre for Disease Surveillance and Control in the ECOWAS zone.
The project duration is 2,5 years. It aims at improving the functioning of surveillance and response networks of ECOWAS member states by support to the National Coordination Institutions (NCI). The project is in line with the “One Health” approach, promotes operational research and aims at a better coordination of actions implemented in the region as part of the International Health Regulations (IHR).
The project has four fields of activity in line with the objectives of the regional pandemic prevention project in the ECOWAS zone (RPPP):
To improve communication on health risks due to infectious diseases
To improve inter institutional coordination and communication
To strengthen human resources in the field of disease control
To strengthen digital surveillance systems and management of epidemics
The project will allow the ECOWAS zone to strengthen health information and surveillance systems, regional and national response teams, operational research and the capacity of the staff. WAHO will see its capacities strengthened for its role as technical advisor to the member states in the fight against epidemics.
While the project focus is on the regional level, actions will also include the national level by support to the National Coordination Institutions in the intervention countries Guinea Conakry, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Togo.
WAHO’s Director General, Prof. Stanley Okolo, pronounced: “Today’s launch is part of the necessary steps to expedite the operationalization of the ECOWAS-RCSDC.” He also appealed to all the partners in preparedness and response to epidemics to align with WAHO work plan in order to avoid duplication.
The representative of the delegation of the European Union, Dr Anthony Ayeke, explained: “Critically, this new EU funding support to the RCSDC will amongst others help establish a regional health risks communication strategy as well as strengthen digitalized surveillance and institutional coordination, thus ensuring that the right information gets to the right people at the right time, all the time.”