Ethiopia Launches Pandemic Fund Mega Project Against Potential Pandemics.

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In a remarkable move towards strengthening its defenses against potential pandemics, Ethiopia officially launched the Ethiopian Pandemic Multi-Sectoral Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Project (EPPR) on Monday, January 29, 2024.

Held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the project launch was attended by H.E. Dr. Lia Tadesse, Minister of Health, H.E. Dr. Girma Amente, Minister of Agriculture, H.E. Dr Dereje Duguma, the State Minister of Health, H.E. Dr. Mesay Hailu, Director General of Ethiopian Public Health Institute(EPHI), senior government officials, as well as Representatives from the Pandemic Fund, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Africa CDC, the World Bank and other key partners. 

The EPPR is a comprehensive 3-year project that addresses areas of pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response specific to Ethiopia’s complex landscape.

The Project, which is supported by a $50 million grant from the Pandemic Fund and an additional $63 million in co-financing, is a partnership between key stakeholders such as the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI), Armauer Hanson Research Institute (AHRI), Animal Health Institute (AHI), WHO, UNICEF, FAO, and other partners.

Speaking at the launch, the FDRE Minister of Health, Dr. Lia Tadesse, recalled that the global pandemic fund has been established after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic to enable countries to have the capacity to identify and respond to outbreaks quickly.

The Project aims to strengthen surveillance systems, enhance the national laboratory system, and ensure the availability of skilled and competent One Health professionals for a sustainable and functional public health system to enable prevention, detection, and response to pandemics.

The Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Girma Amente, pointed out that the project is jointly managed by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture. He stated that the Ministry of Agriculture works in animal health.

WHO Ethiopia Representative a.i. Dr. Dlamini Nonhlanhla, speaking on behalf of Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Africa, said, “The key components and project activities are aligned with the national plans, including Ethiopia’s Health Sector Transformation Plan, Ethiopia Public Health Institute’s Strategic Plan, the Ethiopian National Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan, and the Ethiopian Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) National Action Plan.”

“The establishment of this initiative reflects a firm commitment from the Ethiopian government and our partner organizations to invest in a sustainable and comprehensive approach to pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.” 

“This fund will enable us to mobilize resources, strengthen health systems, and support critical sectors such as Agriculture, Environment, anti-microbial resistance and Animal Health, ensuring a holistic approach to safeguarding public health,” she added.

The EPPR is expected to make valuable contributions to Ethiopia’s efforts in pandemic PPR. For Ethiopia’s workforce, it will strengthen existing training, management, and response teams across human and animal sectors at all levels. Ethiopia’s laboratory systems will increase services and accessibility, including improved detection of priority pathogens. It will also enhance Ethiopia’s surveillance of outbreaks at points of entry and improve the alert system mechanism for the country.

UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia, Dr. Aboubacar Kampo, said, “This is a prime example of effective and efficient coordination among all partners and comes at a critical time when we are facing multiple public health emergencies, in large part due to climate change.” 

So far, the Project has conducted an inception meeting among the key stakeholders and implementing entities. A steering committee and technical working groups have also been constituted, and a project focal person has been assigned to each implementing entity.

A Joint Coordination Committee (JCC), made up of representatives from government entities and partner organizations, has been established and will regularly review progress, discuss challenges, and provide guidance on the overall strategic direction of the Project.

Executive Head of the Pandemic Fund, Dr. Priya Basu, joined virtually from the USA and said, “The Pandemic Fund is pleased to partner with the Government of Ethiopia, WHO, FAO, and UNICEF to launch our largest Project. The Ethiopian Pandemic Multi-Sectoral Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Project (EPPR) holds the promise of building Ethiopia’s resilience to future pandemics, and today’s launch marks a crucial step in our shared commitment towards global health security.”

“The Pandemic Fund will continue to work with urgency and determination to help countries, regions, and the world strengthen their capacity to prevent, detect, and contain future health outbreaks. “Dr. Priya added.

 

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