WHO Eritrea Annual Report 2020: Journey Towards GPW13 Goals Through Achievement of UHC in Eritrea

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Dr Martins Ovberedjo
WHO Representative, Eritrea

The 2020 Eritrea WHO Country Office (WCO) annual report highlights our contribution to public health development in Eritrea in 2020. The WCO supported the Ministry of Health and partners to ensure the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal number 3 (SDG 3) with emphasis on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) ensuring that no one is left behind. The work of the WCO focused on the implementation of WHO’s General Programme of Work 13 (GPW 13) triple billion goals which were elaborated in the WCO workplan in support to the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) Health Sector Strategic and Development Plan II (HSSDP II) 2017-2021 During the year 2020, Eritrea, like the whole world was greatly impacted by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic which halted and disrupted the implementation of some of the WHO’s planned activities. However, the WHO Country Office(WCO) took measures to repurpose its staff to enable it deal with the pandemic response and at the same time it also took action to support and protect staff from the pandemic through the implementation of the business continuity plan. WCO also mobilized additional resources to help Eritrea respond to the pandemic including technical support to strengthen delivery of essential health services across the county.

As part of our commitment to deliver the first of the Triple Billions “One Billion More People Benefitting from Universal Health Coverage” WCO provided technical support to strengthen policy, strategic planning, norms and standards. Highlights of support availed included the conduct of the HSSDP II midterm review, development of the new National Health Policy, and elaboration of the Essential Health Care Package (EHCP).

WHO also supported development of the following important technical products: HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria strategic plans review and development of the Global Fund funding request for HIV, TB and Malaria.

The WCO also supported emergency work as part of the Second Billion “One Billion More People Better Protected from Health Emergencies”. On the global emergency response to COVID-19, the WCO played a critical role in the country’s preparedness and response. The WCO provided technical support in the formulation of the MoH COVID-19 response plan as well as the response plan for the UNCT. Additionally, WHO provided vital and essential supplies for the COVID-19 response.

Plans are at an advanced stage to complete the National Emergency Preparedness Plan.

Demand driven technical and financial support was also provided to the MOH towards institutional capacity building and support the provision of quality and continuity of essential services including NCDs services as part of addressing the Third Billion “One Billion More People Enjoying Better Health and well-being” The health sector in Eritrea enjoys strong political commitment for health including use of domestic resources by Government. While WCO also enjoys a very good working relationship with the MOH and national authorities , development partners and the UNCT, the absence of a formal multisectoral coordination mechanism for SDGs hampers speedy implementation of planned activities. The country also faces challenges adequacy for skilled health personnel and logistical challenges in delivering health services especially to hard to reach areas.

Moving forward the WCO plans to augment programme implementation actions to achieve the GPW 13 objectives through the implementation of the WHO Triple Billions.

The key outstanding issues are the finalization of the National Health Policy, the formulation of the Health Sector Strategic and Development Plan 2022-2026 (HSSDP III), finalization of the Essential Health Care Package (EHCP).
Lastly, I commend WCO staff members for their diligence and hardwork , the Ministry of Health for their confidence and trust in WHO , the UNCT for their collaboration, the donors and development partners, and WHO AFRO and HQ for their continued support.