Juba 9 August, 2018 – The Ministry of Health of the Republic of South Sudan with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners convened a three-day meeting to develop a five-year national action plan for health security (2018-2022).
This comprehensive, multisectoral plan is a follow up of the Joint External Evaluation (JEE) undertaken in 2017 to strengthen the country’s International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) core capacities. This entails prevention, detection, reporting, and rapidly responding to priority diseases and health hazards in human and animal health.
These efforts are in line with the targets of the WHO Africa Regional Strategy for health security and emergencies 2016-2020 adopted at the Regional Committee 66 in Addis Ababa that require at least 80% of member states to have all hazards preparedness plans that are tested and resourced by 2018 and have sustained minimum IHR core capacities by 2020.
South Sudan is a signatory to the IHR (2005) and has demonstrated commitment to developing a robust, resilient and inclusive multi–sectoral health system.
A team of technical experts led by Dr Antonio Oke, from the WHO Regional Office Country Preparedness and IHR unit of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, guided the participants through an intensive planning process which involved reviewing and identifying priorities from South Sudan’s JEE recommendations and previous assessments. They developed objectives and actionable activities for enhancing the IHR core capacities.
Dr Thuou Loi the Director General for International Health and Coordination at the Ministry of Health, appreciated WHO and other partners who have been supporting the health sector. He appealed to the forum which comprised of different sectors to develop a realistic and implementable plan. Dr Loi affirmed government commitment to support the implementation of the plan to improve the country’s health security.
The Acting WHO country representative for South Sudan, Mr Evans Liyosi, commended the efforts of the Ministry of Health for spearheading the development of a multisectoral action plan for health security amid the threat of the ongoing Ebola virus disease outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He noted South Sudan’s contribution towards the target of better protecting one billion more people from health emergencies under the 13th General Program of work for WHO 2019-2030 endorsed by the 71st World Health Assembly. Mr Liyosi thanked the donors mainly USAID, EU Humanitarian Aid, DFID, South Sudan Humanitarian Fund, and Government of Japan, who have been supporting emergency preparedness and response for South Sudan.
South Sudan being one of the nine countries neighbouring the Democratic Republic of Congo is at risk of possible importation of Ebola Virus disease (EVD) due to population movement and trade. On the last day of the NAPHS planning workshop, a desk top simulation exercise was conducted to strengthen preparedness for EVD and mitigate the risks.
Over 40 participants drawn from various sectors including, Ministry of Health (national and states), Ministry of Cabinet Affairs, National Public Health Laboratory, Food and Drug Control Authority, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Ministry of Wildlife Conservation and Tourism, Ministry of Petroleum, Ministry of Interior Directorate of Police Medical Services, Defense Health Services, Ministry on Interior Directorate of Immigration, South Sudan Civil Aviation Authority, South Sudan Urban Water Corporation, Animal Health Laboratory, UN agencies and Emergency partners, attended the planning workshop.
The key next steps include joint finalization of the costed national action plan, advocacy with authorities and international funding and development partners for domestic and international financing of the action plan, and rolling out the implementation by all stakeholders.