Cape Verde: Cabo Verde Bets On Preparedness to Face Emergencies

Cabo Verde began the process of conducting its Joint External Evaluation (JEE) to assess its capacity to implement the International Health Regulations (IHR - 2005). This exercise will enable the identification of good practices and opportunities for continuous improvement aiming at strengthening the essential capacities needed for the country to face situations of public health risks and emergencies, based on the One Health approach.

In this context, a workshop is being held from 2nd to 6th September, organized by the Ministry of Health and Social Security of Cabo Verde, with the technical and financial assistance of the World Health Organization. It aims at assessing the essential capacities of the country in implementing the IHR to prevent, detect, respond and manage risks to public health, in accordance with the aforementioned International Health Regulations.

During the opening act, the National Director of Health, Artur Correia, stressed the importance of increasing the country's resilience and capacity to respond to identified vulnerabilities. "We are all involved in the management of public health risks, through a multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary approach to health. Disease prevention and control is transversal, covering the health, agriculture and transportation sectors, among others", stressed the Director.

The WHO Officer in Charge, Tomas Valdez, highlighted Cabo Verde's efforts to improve its preparedness and response to public health emergencies. "It is worth mentioning here the vaccination coverage rate above 90%, the polio elimination certification process, the ongoing process for measles and rubella elimination, the creation of the Emergency Operations Centre, the existence of an Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response Service and a National Network of Laboratories, among others", he highlighted.

He also reaffirmed WHO's willingness to continue supporting Cabo Verde in building a robust and resilient health system capable of preventing and responding to public health emergencies.

Cabo Verde is vulnerable to a large number of risks due to its geographical location, including natural disasters accentuated by climate change, the most recent being: volcanic eruption, hurricane, drought and floods. There is an important timeline of outbreaks and epidemics that have occurred in Cabo Verde, including cholera (1994 - 1996), measles (1997 - 1998), polio (1999 - 2000), shigellosis (1999 - 2000), H1N1 pandemic influenza (2009), dengue (2009 - 2010), viral meningitis (2015), zika (2015 - 2016) and malaria (2017).

The Joint External Evaluation has two phases, the first for self-evaluation (2 to 6 September) and the second for the visit of the team of external experts for a peer review of the self-assessment (4 to 8 November).

The guiding principles of the evaluation process are the voluntary participation of countries, the multisector approach, open collaboration for capacity assessment, and peer-to-peer approach.

The evaluation is based on four thematic axes, namely: prevention, detection, response, other IHR related risks and points of entry (PoE). Each one has various technical areas and a range of indicators, whose evaluation outcome allows for a specific ranking according to the country's capacity to deal with each technical area.

The result of the evaluation will facilitate the elaboration of a National Action Plan for Health Security, based on a multisector and participatory nature. This will allow the implementation of the IHR in the country in a sustainable and effective manner.

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