February 15, 2023 (NAIROBI, Kenya): The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO) today inaugurated a meeting on Regional Strategic Preparedness and Response for Food Insecurity & Health in the Greater Horn of Africa.
This three-day meeting is bringing together delegates from IGAD member states’ Ministries of Health and national agencies responsible for security, WHO Geneva, WHO country and regional offices, and Experts from IGAD Health and Social Development Division.
The overall objective of the meeting is to obtain high level commitment on a coordinated, harmonised, and holistic response to address the increased health risks due to the food insecurity crisis across the IGAD region, through the endorsement of a comprehensive regional preparedness and response framework. The meeting will specifically focus on finalising a Regional Preparedness and Response Framework document and country-specific plans.
The Director of IGAD Health and Social Development Division, Ms Fathia Alwan, at the opening session stated: “The objective of the Joint IGAD-WHO Regional Initiative is to contribute to the reduction of morbidity and mortality by improving the coordination at Different levels, sharing critical information through relevant channels and enhancing cross border collaboration among the member states. By attaining this broad objective, IGAD in collaboration with WHO proposed to scale up technical and operational support to IGAD countries to accomplish effective response to the increased health risks following the current food insecurity in IGAD region”.
Dr Iheoma Onuekwusi representing WHO Kenya said the meeting came amid projections that over 46 million people in the Greater Horn of Africa will face food insecurity in 2023. “A food insecurity crisis is a health crisis,” she said. “This means that such a crisis also requires a strong health response.”
The meeting will be built around the five strategic pillars of the Framework, which will be the basis of the Country Response Plans:
- Coordination and Collaboration;
- Surveillance and Information;
- Outbreak prevention and control;
- Essential Nutrition Actions; and
- Essential Health Service Actions.
By the end of the three days, a Regional Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan will be developed, while the IGAD countries would have drafted their priority actions for a national response plans.
In summary, the Joint IGAD/WHO Regional initiative aims at contributing to reduction of morbidity and mortality by improving the coordination, information sharing and cross border collaboration among member states and ensure consistency across all the IGAD countries in terms of standardized data collection and context analysis, harmonized response plans and fundraising messages to donors, pro-active advocacy on the health dimension of food insecurity, and scaled up technical and operational support to countries for an effective response to the increased health risks following the current food insecurity crisis across the greater Horn of Africa.