Regional disease surveillance projects gulp over $583m – WAHO DG

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By Abujah Racheal

The Director General, West African Health Organization (WAHO), Prof Stanley Okolo, has disclosed that the World Bank-funded REDISSE programme had utilized  over $583,million allocated for WAHO and ECOWAS countries  to  fund the implementation of their 2016 -2020 strategic plan.

REDISSE stands for Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement (REDISSE), an  programme interdependent Series of Projects designed to strengthen national, regional and cross-sectoral capacity for integrated disease surveillance and response in West Africa.

Okolo made the disclosure  in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday, in Abuja,  on the sidelines of the 5th Regional Steering Committee meeting of the REDISSE.

”The REDISSE Program supports 11 countries in West Africa: Guinea, Senegal, Sierra Leone (REDISSE Phase 1); Togo, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria (REDISSE Phase 2); and Benin, Niger, Mauritania, Mali (REDISSE Phase 3).

“REDISSE Phase 4 expanded the program to five countries in Central Africa, including Angola, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)”, he said.

He disclosed that WAHO served as a regional coordination and implementation agency and the Program Secretariat for the countries of West Africa and Mauritania.

Okolo added that the project consisted of five components: C1: Surveillance and Health Information; C2: Laboratory Capacity Building; C3: Emergency Preparedness and Response; C4: Human Resources Management for Effective Disease Surveillance and Epidemic Preparedness; and C5: Institutional Capacity Building, Project Management, Coordination and Advocacy.

 “The Project Development Objective is to strengthen national and regional cross-sectoral capacities for collaborative disease surveillance and epidemic preparedness in West Africa, addressing weaknesses in human and animal health systems that hinder disease surveillance and effective disease response

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”In the event of an emergency, the project would provide an effective immediate response to the said emergency,” he explained.

 The WAHO DG noted that REDISSE Project had made significant progress in achieving its objectives in West Arica, through improvement of the heath information system and creation of a regional platform for data collection.

In addition, he added, it had recorded significant improvement in the laboratory capacity of the West Africa region, by the establishment of the network of regional laboratories and the development of regional guidelines for laboratory samples transportation.

“WAHO and countries have also supported capacity building of human resources for health in disease epidemiology, through frontline, intermediate and advanced level FELTP training.

“The development of the ECOWAS regional emergency preparedness and response plan and the establishment of both the Regional Rapid Response Teams and National Rapid Response Teams have contributed to the significant capacity improvement for emergency preparedness, which has been evident in the support provided to the region during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These actions have been instrumental in the deployment of the Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (FELTP), trainees, decentralization of laboratory capacity and unified regional platform for accessing COVID-19 data,” he explained.

The 5th Regional Steering Committee meeting was convened to assess the implementation of the REDISSE project, evaluate progress achieved towards meeting project objectives, and make recommendations for enhancing the implementation and achievement  of the objectives.

The implementation of the recommendations of the last Regional Steering Committee meeting held in Lome in November 2, 2019 would also be assessed. 

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Other issues of the agenda would be the consideration of the report of the Technical Committee meeting on the level of implementation of the 2020 AWPBs and PPs of countries, its analysis and validation by implementing partners, WHO, OIE, RAHC, CCISD, FMx, University of Ghana, University of Ouagadougou 1 and WAHO,  all with a view to proffer recommendations to improve the implementation of the project. 

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