ETHIOPIA—Ethiopia has launched the Ethiopian Pandemic Multi-Sectoral Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Project (EPPR) to support the country’s efforts to strengthen its defenses against pandemic threats.

This launch took place on Monday, January 29, 2024, in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, and was attended by H.E. Dr. Lia Tadesse, Minister of Health, H.E. Dr. Girma Amente, Minister of Agriculture, H.E. Dr Dereje Duguma, State Minister of Health, H.E. Dr. Mesay Hailu, Director General of Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI), and senior government officials.

Other significant collaborators were the Pandemic Fund, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Africa’s CDC, the World Bank, and others.

The EPPR is a three-year project that focuses on pandemic prevention, readiness, and response in Ethiopia’s diverse geographical landscape.

The Project’s goal is to strengthen surveillance systems, improve the national laboratory system, and assure the availability of experienced and competent One Health workers for a long-term and effective public health system that can prevent, detect, and respond to pandemics.

This project, which will be supported by a US$50 million grant from the Pandemic Fund and an additional US$63 million in co-financing, is a collaboration among key stakeholders including the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI), Armauer Hanson Research Institute (AHRI), Animal Health Institute (AHI), WHO, UNICEF, FAO, and others.

Speaking at the event, FDRE Minister of Health Dr Lia Tadesse noted that the global pandemic fund was formed following the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic to allow countries to promptly identify and respond to epidemics.

On his part, Dr. Girma Amente, Minister of Agriculture, stated that the project is jointly overseen by the Ministries of Health and Agriculture. He stated that the Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for animal health.

Dr. Dlamini Nonhlanhla, WHO Ethiopia Representative a.i., spoke on behalf of Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Africa, emphasizing that the core components and project activities are in line with national goals.

Ethiopia’s Health Sector Transformation Plan, the Ethiopia Public Health Institute’s Strategic Plan, the Ethiopian National Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan, and the Ethiopian Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) National Action Plan are examples of these plans.

She went on to note that the development of this project represents the Ethiopian government’s and partner organizations’ unwavering commitment to investing in a sustained and comprehensive strategy to pandemic prevention, readiness, and response.

According to her, this fund will allow them to mobilize resources, build health systems, and support vital sectors such as agriculture, environment, antimicrobial resistance, and animal health, assuring a comprehensive approach to public health protection.

Dr. Aboubacar Kampo, UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia, remarked that EPPR is a prime example of effective and efficient coordination among all partners, and it comes at a critical moment when the country is facing various public health problems, largely owing to climate change.

Dr. Priya Basu, Executive Director of the Pandemic Fund, joined virtually from the United States and expressed her satisfaction in collaborating with the Ethiopian government, WHO, FAO, and UNICEF to begin their greatest project.

She said that EPPR has the potential to strengthen Ethiopia’s resistance to future pandemics, and that its launch is a significant step forward in their shared commitment to global health security.

She concluded by stating that the Pandemic Fund will continue to work with urgency and commitment to assist countries, regions, and the global community in strengthening their capacity to prevent, detect, and contain future pandemic outbreaks.

So far, the Project has held an inception meeting with key stakeholders and implementing entities. A steering committee and technical working groups have also been formed, and each implementing organization is allocated a project focal person.

A Joint Coordination Committee (JCC), consisting of members from government entities and partner groups, has been established and will frequently review progress, address difficulties, and provide recommendations on the overall strategic direction of the Project.

The EPPR is projected to make significant contributions to Ethiopia’s efforts in pandemic PPR. It will improve Ethiopia’s workforce by strengthening existing training, management, and reaction teams at all levels in the human and animal sectors.

Ethiopia’s laboratory systems will improve services and accessibility, including better detection of priority infections. It will also boost Ethiopia’s tracking of breakouts at border crossings and the country’s alert system.

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