On July 24, 2018, GHD/EMPHNET commenced a two-day Public Health Emergency Management Center (PHEMC) coordination meeting.
Held at GHD/EMPHNET’s headquarters in Amman, this meeting served as a follow up to a stakeholders’ meeting held last March on the sidelines of EMPHNET’s Sixth Regional Conference. The first meeting focused on supporting public health emergency management capacities in the region. As part of that meeting’s agenda, GHD/EMPHNET presented a description for a Public Health Emergency Management Center (PHEMC) and its core functions.
The sessions were attended by distinguished development partners from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), iMMAP, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), International Medical Corps (IMC), International Organization for Migration (IOM), Public Health England PHE, Jordan Ministry of Health (JMOH), Marie Stopes International (MSI), Public Health England (PHE), South African Field Epidemiology Training Program (SAFETP), Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and World Health Organization Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (WHO EMRO) to all be part of this one space where emergency response is suitably discussed.
During an overview presentation about the current regional context and the role of the PHEMC, it was stated that this region has the largest number of people affected by emergencies and the largest percentage of displaced people worldwide.
In his opening remarks, GHD/EMPHNET’s Executive Director Dr. Mohannad Al Nsour stated that such issues affecting our region make entities like GHD/EMPHNET realize that emergency response is not the work of one organization and that there is a need to facilitate collaboration and cooperation amongst different stakeholders.
Within this context, the PHEMC may work to reduce such gaps. Other identified challenges included the inadequate resources and security restrictions. Discussions from that point were focused on how the different agencies can work together to reduce such outcomes.
Within this context a need was identified for stakeholders to be responsive to such delays by putting in place joint efforts in support of emergency management, and this was seen as a prime purpose of the meeting. Therefore, the center’s core functions were identified to be networking and coordination, capacity building and training, database and information management, mobilization and deployment, documentation and logistics and supplies support.
Meeting discussions also focused on utilizing countries’ and regional capacities in preparedness to public health emergencies. They highlighted means to support ministries of health in responding to public health emergencies in coordination with development partners. Discussions also shed light on how the PHEMC can support the documentation and knowledge sharing of best practices regarding the public health emergency field, and several experiences were shared.
The meeting also included a presentation about GHD/EMPHNET’s networking platform EpiShares, and how its featured can be utilized to mobilize resources in the region.
More specifically, the networking platform was presented as a means to find experts relevant to the skills needed to respond to specific emergencies. Its group feature was also highlighted as a space where experts in the field of emergency management can meet and discuss issues of importance to their respective fields of work. Its map feature was presented as a means to locate the needed experts who are in close proximity to the emergency in question, and its other features were further highlighted as an effective means to network.
After GHD/EMPHNET presented an emergency response related success story from Yemen, different entities presented their experiences and the work they did in the same area, and on the second day, participants were split into two groups to discuss how the functions of the center can best achieve their purpose.
The two-day meeting ended with an identification of the areas in where the entities could collaborate and how these areas could be institutionalized. The also presented a good starting point for bringing parties together to face challenges typical of this region. Ending on a positive note, these sessions were seen to serve as a start for continued coordination between different parties within an agreed mechanism. It was even suggested that such meetings should be held regularly with a focal person representing each partnering entity.