WHO hails Viet Nam’s Significant Progress in Preparedness and Response to Public Health Emergencies

Source: http://www.wpro.who.int


Hanoi - 16 May 2015 - Viet Nam made substantial progress in preparing and responding to public health emergencies in the last nine years. This is the main conclusion of a joint review by the Ministry of Health of Viet Nam and WHO of the implementation of the Asia Pacific Strategy for Emerging Diseases (APSED) and the International Health Regulations (IHR) in Viet Nam, which took place from 10-15 May 2015.

Through the IHR, 196 countries around the world, including Viet Nam, have agreed to build their capacities to detect, assess and report public health events. Guided by the Asia Pacific Strategy for Emerging Disease, WHO has been working side by side with the Government of Viet Nam for nearly a decade to build this IHR capacity to respond to and prepare for public health emergencies such as Avian Influenza and Ebola virus disease.

With strong government commitment and leadership, and support by WHO and other development partners, the Ministry of Health has strengthened capacity, to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to emerging infectious diseases and other public health events. These efforts resulted in Viet Nam achieving in 2014 a minimum standard to respond to such emergencies as required under the IHR.

“Viet Nam has made tremendous progress in preparing and responding to emerging diseases. Previous disease outbreaks clearly left a positive legacy and Viet Nam’s political commitment is exemplary,” said Acting WHO Representative to Viet Nam, Mr Jeffery Kobza.

Within the last ten years, Viet Nam has experienced a number of outbreaks of newly emerging diseases such as SARS, Avian Influenza A (H5N1) and pandemic influenza A (H1N1) 2009. Lingering threats, such as Avian Influenza A(H7N9), continue to remind Viet Nam it remains a hotspot for emerging infectious diseases and public health emergencies.

The five day review, which included meetings with key stakeholders, field visits, and an analysis of Viet Nam’s Ebola Preparedness and 2014 Measles outbreak response highlighted significant progress in the areas of political leadership, surveillance, laboratory diagnostics capacity and public health emergency planning. Substantial progress was also witnessed in other areas such as rapid response, risk assessment and through the development of an Emergency Operating Centre to coordinate Viet Nam’s response to public health emergencies. The review also helped to identify key lessons learnt for Viet Nam to further strengthen and sustain its public health capacity.

Viet Nam’s increased commitment to share its experiences and expertise with the international community was also highlighted. The presence of two Vietnamese experts supporting the ongoing Global Ebola Response in West Africa is a case in point.

“Viet Nam’s remarkable progress has not gone unnoticed. Viet Nam is now equipped to take up more proactive roles in promoting regional and global health security. WHO is keen to support Viet Nam to further develop its capacities and demonstrate them beyond its borders,” noted Dr Li Ailan, Director of the Division of Health Security and Emergencies of WHO’s Western Pacific Regional Office.

Moving forward, this review provides WHO with a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of its current strategic framework and informs the future strategic direction for capacity building on emerging diseases and public health emergencies in the region.

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