The first National Action Plan for Health Security launched

Addis Ababa, 15 March 2019 | The Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia launched the National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS) 2019 – 2023. In a colorful ceremony, the plan was launched by HE Mr Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. 

The Plan, which was developed based on the Joint External Evaluation conducted in 2016, sets a primary goal of achieving a secured capacity that ensures community resilience for public health threats and their impact. The plan puts three strategic pillars which will help the country achieve its mission and vision in line with prevention, detection, and response of public health threats. These are: 
•    Preparedness and Coordination 
•    Detection Capacity and Communication
•    Response Capacity

In his opening remark, HE Demeke Mekonnen underscored that the launch of NAPHS is an important event as it aims “to strengthen Ethiopia’s capacities to prevent, detect and respond to health emergencies” and called upon WHO and partners to support the country in the implementation of NAPHS. He said “[I] would like to call WHO to support us in coordinating and strengthen the strategic partnership among all stakeholders within and outside of the health sector to use this action plan as a country owned roadmap for health security for the people to be better protected from health emergencies event.”

Dr Amir Aman, Minister of Health, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia also emphasized that the plan will bring significant improvements to the capacities to prevent, detect and respond to health threats. He said “the NAPHS will help our country to realize a secured capacity that builds community resilience against health threats and their impacts.”

The emergency threats that affect global health security are vast and evolve as technology becomes more sophisticated.  Despite strategies at the international, national, and local level, outbreaks continue to occur stressing critical infrastructure and health system. Ethiopia and the rest of the world continue to be at risk of infectious disease outbreaks and other public health threats. NAPHS seeks to address these vulnerabilities and gaps to help strengthen national capacity in preparedness, preventing, detecting, and responding to infectious disease threats.

On behalf of Dr Chatora Rufaro, WHO Representative in Ethiopia, Dr Pamela Mitula highlighted that the implementation of NAPHS requires involvement of all stakeholders. “[Achieving the desired goals] will require all our collective effort. Prioritization, resource mobilisation and close monitoring of the implementation process of the plan is critical.” and emphasized that WHO will continue to support Government efforts to actualize the NAPHS implementation in collaboration with all stakeholders.  

WHO’s work
Since 2016, WHO has been working closely with many countries and its partners to support the development of NAPHS. The WHO secretariat developed the NAPHS framework to consolidate technical guidance to countries for the development and implementation capturing feedback from countries, regions and partners. It provides guidance to identify evidence-based priority actions that can be implemented quickly to have immediate impact as well as the long-term actions for sustainable capacity development to improve health security.N
The International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) came into force on June 15, 2017 with the aim of enhancing core capacities for Global Health Security, including improving capacities to detect, prevent, and respond to Public Health Events of International Concern, subsequently reducing their social and economic impacts. Going one step further, the World Health Organization (WHO) Member States in the Africa Region have adopted the Regional Strategy for Health Security 2016-2020 which recommends conducting Joint External Evaluations (JEEs) of core capacities as identified by the IHR. Based on the findings of the JEEs, Member States are also recommended to develop a National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS) to address any identified IHR core capacity gaps. In line with this, Ethiopia, as a signatory to the IHR 2005, conducted a JEE between February and March 2016.