KENYA— The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), in collaboration with the East, Central, and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA-HC), has launched the Health Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Resilience Programme (HEPRR), kicking off Phase I of the Multiphase Programmatic Approach (MPA).

This pioneering endeavor, supported by the World Bank, will last seven years and be implemented in two to three phases. The program, which will provide US$1 billion in loan and grant financing, will be implemented in two to three phases.

The first phase, worth US$359 million, will take place in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sao Tome and Principe, the ECSA-HC, and the IGAD; the second phase will include Burundi, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Malawi; and the third phase will include Angola, Somalia, and Tanzania.

Based on a gap analysis, this funding will address both regional and country-specific needs, with investments supporting disaster planning and making emergency and pandemic response more efficient.

This effort is expected to greatly improve multisectoral readiness and response to health emergencies in Eastern, Central, and Southern Africa.

The program’s goal is to fund programs related to climate change adaptation and mitigation, infectious disease outbreaks, and increased access to quality health commodities.

It includes increasing local vaccine and pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, training health personnel in climate change disaster planning and response, and improving quality control and assurance.

Furthermore, the initiative will improve multi-sector and cross-border emergency preparedness and response. It will fund infectious disease surveillance and response, as well as public health crises such as climate-sensitive diseases and climatic shocks, with a particular emphasis on the One Health concept.

The HEPRR initiative is aligned with the African Union Health Strategy 2016–2030 and the Africa CDC’s New Public Health Order. It represents a concentrated effort to advance continental health objectives.

Among the distinguished guests at the launch were the Kenyan Ministry of Health’s Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha, Hon. Prof. Yoswa Dambisya, Director-General of ECSA-HC; H.E. Workneh Gebeyehu, Executive Secretary of IGAD; H.E. Keith E. Hansen, Country Director of the World Bank in Kenya; and Medical Services Principal Secretary Mr. Harry Kimtai, among others.

Speaking at the launch in Nairobi, CS Nakhumicha stressed the necessity of building regional health systems in order to respond effectively to catastrophes and create resilience.

She emphasized the need for preparedness in attaining health promotion and prevention goals, noting the continent’s reaction to infectious diseases and other public health risks.

“Infectious diseases remain a serious health challenge across Africa, particularly in the Eastern and Southern regions. Frequent outbreaks of diseases such as Marburg, Yellow Fever, and Chikungunya have continued to strain our health systems,” she added.

Nakhumicha emphasized the urgent need to strengthen Africa’s health systems to improve responsiveness and resilience through public health surveillance, pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturing, and climate-related risk mitigation.

Harry Kimtai, Kenya’s medical services principal secretary, stated that the HEPRR funding initiative will help create an enabling legal and regulatory framework for vaccine and pharmaceutical manufacturing in Kenya.

Part of the funds will be used to strengthen the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) personnel, boost staffing, and support quality control laboratories so that Kenya’s regulator can attain level 3 maturity status.

According to Kenya Biovax Institute CEO Dr. Michael Lusiola, the funding will help bridge financing gaps that are impeding the operationalization of a local vaccine manufacturing facility, upgrading it to meet World Health Organization (WHO) manufacturing standards so that Kenya can produce fill and finish human vaccines at Biovax.

Keith Hansen, the World Bank’s Country Director for Kenya, advised African governments to step up their preparations for disease outbreaks, noting that domestic vaccine manufacturing will improve responses to health emergencies.

In his address, Workneh Gebeyehu, Executive Secretary of IGAD, stated that the launch is appropriate since it will assist the area in recovering from the devastating health and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He noted that the seven-year program will draw on lessons learned from combating the COVID-19, cholera, and Ebola epidemics.

The session closed with a renewed commitment to building resilient health systems that provide equitable, cheap, and accessible health care throughout the area.

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