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May 30, 2024   |   Blog Post

Collaborating to Improve Public Health Emergency Management in Mozambique

Visit of the Mozambican delegation to the Africa CDC in Addis Ababa/Ethiopia.

By Arsenio Manhice

Manager, Advocacy & Communications

Collaboration is key to improving public health emergency management. With the leadership of the Mozambique Ministry of Health (MoH), VillageReach Mozambique conducted visits to Ethiopia and Sierra Leone so that MoH decision-makers, PHEOC technicians and key personnel involved in public health emergency management could observe fully functioning PHEOCs at national and subnational level, identify key priorities, understand the areas of emergency management, facilitate cross-country learning on best practices and establish and solidify partnerships between countries.

Learnings from Ethiopia Pave the Way for Future Partnership

The Ethiopian Minister of Health, WHO-Ethiopia, and the Mozambican delegation.

The visit to Ethiopia in April, spearheaded by Dr. Domingos Guihole, Head of  Health Surveillance Department at MoH, showed how best practices could be adapted and implemented in Mozambique. Additionally, the Knowledge exchange sessions with the Ethiopian MoH fostered mutual learning and strengthened the collaboration among both countries.

“I am impressed by how Ethiopia structures its operations and the strong coordination with the National Public Health Institute and the local Ministry of  Health, which sets directives and laws for PHEOC, and other stakeholders,” said Dr. Fino Chalimba, a Permanent Technician at Mozambique’s central PHEOC.

Dr. Chalimba also highlighted that the National Institute for Disaster Management is technically established and well-coordinated. He concluded that Mozambique should bolster its central PHEOC response to cyclical emergencies, with a specific and permanent team equipped with ICT capabilities to monitor events and provide rapid response plans. The PHEOC should also have administrative and financial capacities for sustainability.

The meeting at the Ethiopian MoH.

The Mozambican delegation had opportunities to visit key institutions involved in public health emergency management, offering opportunities to observe the strategies and mechanisms employed by Ethiopia in handling such situations, furthering cooperation between Mozambique and Ethiopia in the field of public health emergency management, and paving the way for future collaborations and partnerships.

Insights from Sierra Leone

Mozambican delegation with the WHO-Sierra Leone.

The visit to Sierra Leone in March, led by Dr. Quinhas Fernandes, the National Director of Public Health, also provided valuable lessons in the operationalization of a Public Health Emergency Operations Center and global public health management.

Dr. Hélder Dombole, Head of Tete Province’s Public Health Department, highlighted three key learnings from the trip as follows:

  • Creation of the PHE Agency, approved by the National Assembly as a semi-autonomous entity under the Ministry of Health, allowed clear leadership and better coordination in public health emergency responses.
  • The National Technical Group for PHE Preparedness, Response and Resilience coordinates the national response to PHE.
  • The PHEOC’s functioning at a subnational level as a virtual entity and the availability of various guiding instruments, including plans and standard operating procedures  enables a robust response to PHE.

As well as adopting these practices, Dr. Dombole added further takeaways for Mozambique: to implement an electronic case-based surveillance system capable of issuing real-time alerts at all levels and to conduct operational studies on emergencies.

Implementing the Ethiopia and Sierra Leone PHEOC Models

These visits underscore VillageReach’s commitment, with leadership from Lorna Gujral and Agnaldo Guambe, leveraging international experiences and expertise to enhance Mozambique’s PHE ecosystem.

Dr. Lorna Gujral, the project manager at VillageReach, emphasized the importance of strong coordination, supervision and control during different phases of the emergency management cycle. Additionally, she highlighted the importance of establishing a legal framework as well as operational and strategic documents to enable the PHEOC to fulfill its mandate.

To share learnings and build a stronger response network, the MoH will be hosting presentations based on these field visits. By bringing together key stakeholders from Mozambique’s emergency preparedness and response system. It’s expected that these discussions will lead to updates on the PHEOC operationalization roadmap.

Mozambique Can Share Its Experience

The Mozambican delegation visited the subnational level PHEOC in Port-Loko/Sierra Leone

Beyond these visits, Mozambique’s extensive experience in managing PHE offers valuable lessons for other countries. From tackling COVID-19 and cholera outbreaks to responding to polio outbreaks and extreme weather events such as cyclones, Mozambique has built a robust response system with some notable strengths:

  • Strong Coordination and Advocacy: Mozambique ensures all stakeholders can effectively fulfill their roles, minimizing the impact of emergencies and enabling swift responses.
  • Subnational PHEOC Network: The establishment of a well-equipped and functional PHEOC in Tete province with dedicated personnel.
  • Strategic Partnerships: Collaboration with international partners secures funding for PHEOC operations.
  • Effective Incident Management: A well-established Incident Management System (IMS) enhances PHEOC functionality and emergency management.
  • Continuous Training: Regular training for managers and technicians strengthens public health emergency response capabilities.
  • Comprehensive Contingency Plans: Regularly updated plans ensure preparedness for diverse public health emergencies.

The success of VillageReach Mozambique’s collaborative efforts with Ethiopia and Sierra Leone demonstrates the power of experience exchange to strengthen public health emergency management systems. By learning from each other’s experiences, Mozambique can identify best practices, address critical gaps and ultimately save lives.

But this initiative extends beyond Mozambique, therefore sharing these lessons through continued partnerships can significantly improve global preparedness and response capabilities. By fostering international collaboration and leveraging shared knowledge, we can build a world better prepared to respond to public health emergencies, protecting human lives.

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