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Green Stamp on Emergency Preparedness Initiative


Lerato Matheka

A development landmark aimed at fortifying health security, the Government of Lesotho has officially endorsed and launched the Emergency, Preparedness, and Response Flagship Initiative Roadmap. 

Developed with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Africa CDC, the initiative marks a pivotal step forward in safeguarding the health and well-being of the nation.

Lesotho, a country renowned for its vibrant agricultural sector, understands the intrinsic connection between health and agriculture, particularly in the context of disease outbreaks hence the initiative’s interactive nature. 

With a significant portion of its population engaged in farming, ensuring health security is not only a public health imperative but also critical for sustaining livelihoods and promoting food security and nutrition.

The decision to enrol in the WHO EPR Flagships initiative in 2023 underscores Lesotho’s commitment to promoting health security and achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3 – “ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all ages.” 

According to the WHO, the initiative comprises three key pillars: promoting system resilience for emergencies, transforming surveillance systems, and strengthening and utilising response groups for emergencies.

These flagship initiatives were crafted by the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa and Africa CDC, drawing on recommendations from various WHO committees and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, and they aim to enhance health emergency preparedness and response capabilities across member states in the African region.

During the endorsement event, Dr. Richard Banda, WHO Representative to Lesotho, emphasised the critical importance of the initiative for the nation’s health security. 

He highlighted the need to address deficiencies in coordination, information sharing, and case management to prevent a repeat of the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If we miss this opportunity, we risk subjecting Lesotho to the same flaws that hindered the national response to COVID-19: a deficiency in coordination, information sharing, and case management.  We cannot permit the pattern of fear and disregard to continue. The pandemic left us all with terrible lessons that we will never be able to forget”.

Echoing this sentiment, Ester Muchenje, National Coordinator for Africa CDC in Lesotho, hailed the launch of the flagship roadmap as a significant milestone in protecting the health of the people. 

She expressed Africa CDC’s commitment to collaborating with WHO to strengthen member states’ capacity to prepare for, detect, and respond to health emergencies.

Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Maneo Ntene, underscored the importance of multi-sectoral collaboration in achieving health security in Lesotho. 

She lauded the support from partners and stressed the need for all relevant sectors to integrate the activities outlined in the roadmap into their plans.

The launch event, attended by stakeholders from various ministries and government offices, marks the beginning of the implementation phase of the Emergency, Preparedness, and Response Flagship Initiative Roadmap. 

With concerted efforts and collaborative action, Lesotho aims to build robust systems that will ensure effective preparedness and response to health emergencies, safeguarding the health and well-being of its citizens.

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