ETHIOPIA—The WHO Africa Regional Office (WHO AFRO), in conjunction with WHO Headquarters and WHO Ethiopia, has organized the first regional workshop on preventing and reacting to sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment (PRSEAH) on May 15–17.

The three-day gathering brought together 79 participants from 47 African countries to assess the previous biennium’s achievements, address obstacles, and brainstorm new PRSEAH initiatives.

This session follows the tragic discoveries of sexual exploitation and abuse during the tenth Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, emphasising the need for fundamental changes within the organisation.

 In response, WHO created the #NoExcuse programme in February 2022 to combat SEAH and safeguard communities.

This programme focuses on reforms that promote accountability, openness, and trust, with victims and survivors at the centre.

The workshop schedule included a thorough evaluation of past accomplishments and problems, strategic discussions about incorporating PRSEAH into emergency planning and response, and the identification of specific activities for the next two years.

The sessions were intended to foster a common understanding and approach throughout the AFRO PRSEAH network.

They comprised case studies, experience sharing, and panel discussions to increase collaboration and effectiveness across WHO’s three organisational levels.

In his welcoming speech, Dr. Owen Laws Kaluwa, WHO Representative to Ethiopia, emphasised the organization’s zero-tolerance attitude for SEAH, emphasising that there is no room within WHO for abusers or witnesses who refuse to speak up.

He emphasised that everyone is responsible for preventing and successfully responding to SEAH wherever it occurs.

Dr. Patrick Abok, Emergency Preparedness and Response cluster lead, for his part, stated that the decision to hold the workshop in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, was motivated by strategic considerations of impact and visibility.

He emphasised that Ethiopia’s recurring emergencies, as well as the linkage of PRSEAH with the country’s Health Emergency Response system, provide an unparalleled opportunity for meaningful participation and practical integration of SEAH preventative strategies.

Dr. Khawla Akel, PRSEAH Coordinator, underlined the significance of everyone recognizing their responsibility in preventing or responding to SEAH, stating that the goal is to rebuild confidence and position WHO as a leader in dealing with SEAH.

As part of the SURGE Flagship effort, 200 first responders were trained on Module 4 (GBV & PSEA) with national resources.

He finished by stating that attempts to improve victim support included training 28 PRSEAH trainers from the Regional Health Bureau and the Bureau of Women Affairs, as well as customising training material for the Ethiopian environment. Furthermore, there was a focus on connecting referrals to economic empowerment programmes.

The regional workshop in Addis Ababa marked a significant step in WHO’s ongoing efforts to combat SEAH within its operations and communities.

WHO hopes to strengthen its PRSEAH programmes and create a safer, more accountable environment for everybody by bringing together experts, stakeholders, and representatives from around Africa.

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