MAURITIUS—The World Health Organization (WHO) has concluded the validation process for the Mauritius National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS) with a five-day workshop.

The workshop marked a significant milestone that sets the country to invest smartly to further protect its population and to minimize the effects of outbreaks and pandemics.

With the support of WHO, the country was able to finalize the action plan to strengthen the national health security system drafted in November 2022.

This multi-year action plan for Health Security draws on multisectoral engagement using the One Health approach to strengthen public health emergency detection, early preparedness, and swift response.

It has been aligned with the Global Health Security strategy and the International Health Regulations 2005 (IHR) which recommends countries strengthen, monitor, and evaluate their IHR capacities for the early prevention, protection, control, and response to the spread of diseases.

As a signatory of the International Health Regulations (2005), the Republic of Mauritius has already conducted voluntary and external assessments such as, respectively, the State Party Annual Reporting (SPAR) and the Joint External Evaluation (JEE).

The assessments provide insights into strengths and weaknesses in compliance with IHR capacities.

Furthermore, the results of these evaluations, coupled with lessons learned from the national response to the COVID-19 Pandemic have enabled the identification of all necessary actions to improve national capacities and define the national action plan for health security.

The country initiated preparatory work led by the Ministry of Health and Wellness in November 2022.

The NAPHS represents an important achievement for Mauritius showing political commitment and multi-sectoral engagement to advance a comprehensive preparedness and response plan to strengthen the health security of the country.

WHO Representative Mauritius, Dr. Anne Ancia said, “For small island developing states which are the most vulnerable to climate change while they are the least contributors to it, these risks analysis are important, including to prepare and therefore prevent and mitigate the risks links to climate change.”

Making Mauritius’ public health system more resilient

MoHW in partnership with the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Command, the Ministry of Finance and Planning, the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security, and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.

Also participating in NAPHS development were the Ministry of Social Security, Ministry of Gender and Inequality, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Tourism, Meteorological Services, the Special Mobile Forces, The Indian Ocean Commission, and other stakeholders contributed to the assessment of public health risk. 

Resulting in a draft strategic action plan that was thus developed and subsequently cost and validated in April 2023.

Some 40 multisectoral experts, used the WHO Strategic Toolkit for Assessing Risk (STAR) to identify and prioritize the country’s public health risks and related necessary preparedness and response actions for the health system.

The STAR toolkit used to assess health emergency risks for all hazards is aligned with the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction commitments. 

STAR also facilitates the development of robust policies, strategies, and plans to address the vulnerabilities countries can face regarding priority health emergencies and disasters.  

STAR also offers a stepwise approach to identify hazards facing the country, describe the seasonality and likelihood to occur, and assess their potential impact on the health system.

Finally, participants discussed the operationalization of the risk matrix to inform capacity-building and readiness actions based on the results.

Mauritius consolidated the risk information and prioritization from STAR to provide further evidence for the finalization of the National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS).

With the validation process over, NAPHS implementation moving forward will mark a milestone that sets the country to invest smartly to further protect its population and minimize the effects of outbreaks and pandemics.

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