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WAHO hosts regional workshop in Gambia on epidemic preparedness

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By Aminata Kuyateh

The West African Health Organisation (WAHO) in partnership with the ministry of health on Tuesday held a three-day comprehensive regional workshop aimed at enhancing collaboration mechanisms for the effective engagement between Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and community leaders in epidemic preparedness, response and recovery in our communities.

The event, held in Bakadaji hotel, gathered key stakeholders from across West Africa to address the critical need for robust mechanisms in managing public health crises.

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The workshop titled “Strengthening collaborative mechanisms for civil society organisations and leaders including women leaders in epidemic preparedness, recovery and response in our communities” will run from 25th-27 June. It attracted participants from various sectors, including health professionals, organisations and community representatives.

In his remark on behalf of the director general of WAHO, regional communication lead, Dr. Babacar Fall, emphasized the importance of synergy between different sectors to effectively combat epidemics.

“In 2023, there were fifty (50) new outbreaks of emerging and re-emerging infectious disease recorded in the ECOWAS region, This represents around 40% of new epidemic outbreaks notified in the WAHO African region, and means that our region remains one of the parts of the continent most affected by these events”, Dr. Fall stated.

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Dr. Fall added that integrating the opinions and experiences of community leaders and civil society into health emergency preparedness, response, and recovery efforts ensures that interventions are not only more effective and sustainable but also more respectful of local cultures and responsive to the diverse needs of communities. Their involvement strengthens resilience, fosters collaboration, and ultimately saves lives.

Dr. Fall said WAHO reaffirms its determination to continue to defend regional integration through health in close collaboration with its partners, collaborators, government and other key players. “WAHO remains committed to leading, coordinating and supporting effective regional and national public health strategies and integrated approach, to facilitating South-South capacity building efforts, to providing support for innovative solutions to address public health threats”, Dr. concluded.

Dr. Fall said the community plays a central role in mitigating the consequences of these epidemics, it is therefore imperative that our countries involve their populations in creative problem-solving before, during and after emergencies.

Technical DPS at the ministry of health, Dr. Babanding Sabally, highlighted the importance to effectively combat epidemics. “The outbreak of Ebola and the recent Covid-19 pandemic has underscored the necessity for a coordinated approach in epidemic management. Civil society organisations and community leaders play a pivotal role in this framework. By strengthening our collaborative mechanisms, we can ensure a more resilient and responsive health system,” Dr. Sabally stated.

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