SOUTH SUDAN – African Development Bank (AfDB) has partnered with World Health Organization (WHO) to launch a new public health emergency operations center in Juba, South Sudan.

The facility will help South Sudan prepare for and respond to public health emergencies in terms of coordinating the preparation for, response to and recovery from public health emergencies.

Public health emergencies like COVID-19, Ebola and Zika endanger people in South Sudan with children especially vulnerable to such outbreaks.

Moreover, South Sudan continues to experience recurrent epidemic-prone diseases among other public health and humanitarian emergencies.

The emergency center is a critical component of detecting and controlling any potential outbreak and serves as the strategic coordination center for health emergencies including the Covid-19 response.

AfDB grant-financed US$4.2 million for the Covid-19 response project while WHO implemented the project.

The center was equipped with hardware and software to facilitate emergency response operations in the country included procuring an oxygen plant, vehicles, essential medicines, biomedical equipment and personal protective equipment.

The partnership has played a crucial role in strengthening South Sudan’s capacity to reduce, mitigate and manage the adverse impacts of Covid-19.

It also enhances national health security and support in the fight against Covid-19.

At the unveiling event, AfDB Country Manager for South Sudan, Themba Bhebhe and Dr Fabian Ndenzako, WHO South Sudan Representative, handed over the facility to Health Minister Elizabeth Achuei Yol.

Public health emergencies arising from public health threats continued to be a major concern in African countries,” Themba Bhebhe said.

He noted that South Sudan was particularly at risk because of the characteristic fragility of its health architecture.

The handing over of South Sudan’s functional public health emergency operations center is a defining moment in the African Development Bank’s growing efforts to help the country fulfill obligations required by international health regulations,” he further noted.

WHO’s Dr Ndenzako described the establishment of the second phase of the Public Health Emergency Operations Center as a key milestone in line with compliance with the International Health Regulations (2005) to strengthen communication and coordination for effective public health response.

Previously, AfDB donated two cars to support South Sudan’s ongoing COVID-19 response as part of efforts by the Bank and its partners to ease the toll of the pandemic on vulnerable African states.

The cars will be used by the Public Health Emergency Operation Centre in Juba to coordinate the incident management system and deploy national rapid response teams to enhance outbreak investigation.

The vehicles will enhance the multidisciplinary and national response in at-risk and affected populations thus help save more lives as well as tackle the negative impacts of COVID-19,” Health Minister Elizabeth Achuei asserted.

In addition, the vehicles will support continuity of COVID-19 response mechanisms through improving emergency preparedness and strengthening the health system.

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