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Apr 9, 2024   |   Blog Post

Public health emergency management course proves a game-changer for Mozambique

public health emergency management program mozambique
Public Health Emergency Management Program (PGES) in Tete, Mozambique.

By Arsénio Manhice

Manager, Advocacy & Communications

The landscape of public health emergency response in Mozambique is shifting. With the recent launch of the Public Health Emergency Management Program (PHEM), the country is taking a proactive stance in building resilience against public health emergencies. This program marks a significant step forward, as exemplified by the highly successful first training held in Tete province in February 2024.

This intensive training, designed by the US CDC and organized by VillageReach with facilitation from US CDC, WHO AFRICA and co-facilitated by WHO country office, VillageReach, CDC Mozambique and USAID brought together 21 health professionals, including PHEOC permanent staff from Maputo ant Tete and key personnel from the Ministry of Health (MoH), provincial health directorate (DPS), and provincial health service (SPS). These participants were equipped with knowledge and skills necessary to effectively prepare for and respond to public health emergencies.

Prior to this training, both PHEOC faced significant challenges. Staff, although dedicated, lacked formal training, hindering their ability to perform their critical functions. The PHEM training served as a game-changer, providing them with a comprehensive understanding of emergency preparedness and response protocols.

Leadership Recognizes the Positive Impact

Xarifo Gentio, Provincial Chief Medical Officer

The course garnered praise from both leadership and participants. Dr. Xarifo Gentio, Provincial Chief Medical Officer from Tete, representing the Honorable Dr Carla Mosse Lázaro, Director of the SPS, highlighted the training’s role in addressing critical gaps in PHEOC structure and function. He emphasized the importance of cascading this knowledge to professionals across the province and districts. He appealed to the participants to build on their training to provide increased focus on issues such as:

  • Intra-sectoral Coordination
  • Sectoral resilience
  • Improved logistics services and supply chain during activation
  • Strengthening active surveillance and early detection, and
  • Risk communication.
Participants Gain Valuable Skills

Filipe Mateus Murimirgua, coordinator of the Central PHEOC

Dr. Filipe Mateus Murimirgua, coordinator of the Central PHEOC in Maputo, echoed these sentiments. He lauded the training for improving his knowledge of Tete’s incident management system and highlighted the importance of simulation exercises – a crucial component he hadn’t previously considered – in improving response by involving all actors. Dr. Murimirgua’s call for further training resonated across the board, with the need for standardized operating procedures (SOPs) and expanding the national PHEOC network being key takeaways.

“We need to advocate with partners so that gradually we can establish PHEOCs in other provinces,” he concluded.

Tete Pioneers the Way

Benilde Uache, Coordinator of Tete PHEOC

Dr. Benilde Uache, Coordinator of PHEOC Tete, expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to pioneer this pilot course. She acknowledged the ongoing learning curve and the crucial role of partners in building a fully functional operational center in Tete. Notably, the training coincided with Tete’s response to a cholera outbreak, demonstrating the PHEOC’s real-time functionality.

Dr. Uache’s closing statement embodies the spirit of the program: “From now on, we hope for improvements. From now on, we are committed to managing in a more organized manner and thereby reducing the impacts of public health emergencies on Tete’s communities.”

A Call for Multisectoral Collaboration

Maimuna Eusébio Luís

Ms. Maimuna Eusébio Luís, Head of the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Public Health Emergency Response Unity at the National Directorate of Public Health, emphasized the importance of integrating various MoH departments into the incident management system. She underscored the need for multisectoral collaboration, urging the inclusion of other ministries in future training initiatives. She praised Tete’s incident management structure as an effective way to respond to public health emergencies and welcomed the idea of hosting national trainings.

Sustainable Impact for a Healthier Future

Nevashan Govender, a WHO-Afro technical expert for PHEOC at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD)

Mr. Nevashan Govender, a WHO-Afro technical expert for PHEOC at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases and course trainer, stressed the critical role of trained personnel in PHEOC effectiveness. He hoped the course would provide a strong foundation for managing public health emergencies in the country and expressed hope for a paradigm shift in emergency preparedness and response strategies.

Mr. Govender’s concluding remarks highlight the significance of ongoing collaboration between the MoH and all participating partners to ensure the program’s long-term success: “We hope the training brings a shift in thinking on how public health emergency management and response can be improved and restructured from what is being done at the moment.”

The PHEM training in Tete marks a pivotal moment for public health emergency management in Mozambique. By equipping health care professionals with the necessary knowledge and skills and fostering a collaborative environment, this program lays the groundwork for a more resilient health care system, prepared to effectively address future public health threats. The dedication and commitment of all involved stakeholders offer a promising glimpse into a healthier future for Mozambique.

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