New project to build risk-informed and resilient health systems

Freetown, July 14: A new project aimed at accelerating risk management in the health sector in three most Ebola-affected countries, has been launched in Freetown, following a three-day inception workshop that ended July 14.

Organised by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and inputs from the World Health Organization (WHO). The project, funded by the Government of Japan and titled “Accelerating implementation of the Sendai Framework in Ebola- affected Countries with Risk-Informed Health Systems” seeks to promote systemic integration of health policy into national and sub-national disaster risk reduction. The project also seeks to bolster capacity for disaster risk management and contribute to building resilient health systems in the Manor River countries.

The UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Sunil Saigal, said that UNDP has been supporting the Government of Sierra Leone in its efforts to recover and rebuild following the devastating effects of the Ebola.

Mr. Saigal said “The Government of Sierra Leone’s post EVD recovery programme that aims to build back more resilient health systems is well aligned to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, especially on aspects related to health emergencies. I therefore find this UNISDR initiative extremely relevant and timely, and I am pleased that UNDP is able to partner and provide the platform for the UNISDR training, which will enable the health sector to be risk-informed and better placed to manage future health emergencies. Having this initiative across the MRU member states should also enable better coordination and sharing of information at the regional level.“

UNISDR Senior Advisor, Chadia Wannous, noted that the project is a practical application of the health component of the Sendai framework for disaster risk reduction. Ms. Wannous added that health is a key feature of the Sendai framework that aims to substantially reduce disaster risks and losses in lives, livelihood and health.

Ms Wannous said “the project will support the three countries to integrate and share information on health emergencies as well as on the impact of other types of disasters on human health, in terms of mortality and mobility disaggregated by sex and vulnerability as well as data on the impact of disasters on health infrastructure. The goal is to see further integration of health into the overall disaster risk management structures, plans and databases.”

Senior Specialist and Deputy Incident Manager in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS, Emergency Operations Centre Dr. Alie H. Wurie, noted that the project is very instrumental as it would help Sierra Leone assess disaster risks better.

Dr Wurie said “The concept of understanding disaster risk, including developing comprehensive risk assessment, risk profiling and disaster loss accounting system with health-related data and integrating the health component into disaster risk management is a novelty and we hope that this project will inject positive changes in the overall health care sector in Sierra Leone.”

The workshop also included the training of 35 health sector and disaster management specialists drawn from Sierra Leone Police, National Fire Force, MOHS, ONS, Sierra Leone Red Cross and others in data collection, validation and processing.

UNDP works with vulnerable communities to reduce the impacts and risks of natural and other disasters in Sierra Leone by reinforcing and supporting the stabilization of livelihoods, and protection and empowerment of vulnerable people especially youth and women. UNDP also supports the national Disaster Management Department to ensure that early warning modalities are put in place to avert or manage disasters.