The African Development Bank (AfDB) and WHO are to build the second phase of the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre (PHEOC) in Juba, South Sudan.
The groundbreaking ceremony was presided over by Honorable Hon. Elizabeth Acuei Yol, Minister of Health, in the presence of the African Development Bank Country Manager for South Sudan, the Head of Cooperation in the Embassy of Japan, the Undersecretary and Directors General in the Ministry of Health, WHO South Sudan Staff and the media.
The project comprising infrastructure, furniture and equipment will strengthen preparedness and response capacities of the country for public health emergencies, in line with the International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005.
South Sudan continues to experience recurrent epidemic-prone diseases, and other public health and humanitarian emergencies.
“By putting our collective efforts into a PHEOC project, the Ministry of Health will be better placed to respond promptly and effectively to public health risks and public health emergencies of international concern”, said Hon. Elizabeth Acuei Yol.
The ability of the PHEOC to effectively function depends on appropriate design and infrastructure, staffing and command structure, and plans and procedures developed prior to the event. Multi-sectoral coordination will be required and PHEOC should be positioned with such authorities.
In her remarks, Honorable Minister Acuei Yol highlighted the tremendous and ongoing commitments of the Government of South Sudan, the contributions of the African Development Bank and the commitments of WHO and other partners to strengthen mechanisms for delivering more integrated public health response during emergencies.
Speaking during the ceremony, Mr Benedict Kanu AfDB Country Manager for South Sudan underscored that “the support provided by the Bank is yet another testimony of the Bank’s growing commitment to closely work with the Government of South Sudan, a valued shareholder of the Bank, and other partners, to assist to build health system capacity for emergency preparedness in the country.” Mr Kanu assured the government of the significance the Bank attaches to human development in its partnership with South Sudan and its donors, and indeed, all other African member countries of the Bank to promote inclusive growth and development on the continent.
Since the inception of the USD 4.2 million AfDB grant-financed project to support the emergency response for COVID-19 and strengthen the health system capacity for emergency preparedness in South Sudan, considerable progress has been made including delivering a wide range of essential medicines, lifesaving biomedical equipment and personal protective equipment to support the ongoing COVID-19 response.
In addition, WHO is procuring an oxygen plant and vehicles to support the government’s ongoing COVID-19 response.
“Having the right infrastructure in place is important. It is equally important to have the right health policy and programmes, so that we can better plan, prepare and respond to address everyone’s health”, said Dr Guracha Guyo, on behalf of Dr Olushayo Olu, the WHO Representative for South Sudan.