Congo reinforces health emergency preparedness, response

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The Republic of the Congo on Friday 21 June 2024 finalized a review of its national health emergency preparedness and response capacity, an initiative to identify and swiftly close gaps to strengthen fitness to withstand future shocks, while maintaining delivery of routine health care.

The country is the third in the African region after the Central African Republic and Sierra Leone, and the sixth globally, to undertake the Universal Health and Preparedness Review (UHPR), a country-led comprehensive and inclusive analysis involving all government sectors, as well as civil society organizations and other partners.

“The UHPR has enabled us to have high-level government involvement, as well as the involvement by partners and civil society organizations through a multisectoral, whole-of society approach. Through this approach we have been able to assess our capacities and identify strategic priorities for health security, the health system and universal health coverage,” said Hon Gilbert Mokoki, Minister of Health.

“I look forward to continuing the collaboration to build a safer and healthier future for the people of Congo and the rest of the world,” added Hon Mokoki.

The UHPR process foregrounds improvements in health security, driven by top-level country leadership and commitment. It calls for urgent attention to be paid to priority interventions, in line with regional and global priorities, alongside improved compliance with International Health Regulations and World Health Assembly resolutions related to emergency preparedness.

Participating countries commit to voluntary regular and transparent reviews of their comprehensive national health and preparedness capacities, towards mutual learning and sharing of best practices, solutions and innovations.

Congo embarked on the UHPR process in 2022, drawing lessons from the COVID-19 response and aiming to improve health emergency preparedness and response. The major risks with implications on public health range from infectious diseases, natural disasters such as floods and landslides, as well as environmental disasters like industrial accidents and air, water and soil pollution.

“The COVID-19 pandemic was an unprecedented crisis of solidarity that left us in no doubt that health and preparedness are everyone’s business, at the national, regional and global levels. We applaud the Republic of the Congo’s efforts in leading a comprehensive and inclusive review of its preparedness status and look forward to working with the country to implement this mechanism,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa.

“We needed to work together to build transparent, peer-review mechanisms such as the Universal Health and Preparedness Review, which will support mutual accountability, solidarity and cooperation among our Member States,” she added.

The UHPR review examines best practices, gaps and challenges, along with priorities in three areas of the health response: governance, systems and financing for health emergencies, and universal health coverage.

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