The National Department of Health (NDOH) , in collaboration with provincial health departments, the World Health Organization (WHO) in South Africa and partners such as John Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics (Jhpiego), the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), convened the National International Health Regulations (IHR) Committee to review progress toward IHR (2005) implementation. The review meeting took place from November 20 to 22, 2023, at The Capital Menlyn Maine Hotel in Pretoria, Gauteng Province.
This review meeting was a follow up of the National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS) meeting which was held May 25 and 26, 2022 in South Africa. The review’s objectives were to:
- Provide feedback on the Program Management for Epidemic Preparedness (PMEP) workshop, held between 1-6 October, 2023 in Nairobi Kenya.
- Orient the IHR committee members on the NAPHS process.
- Review and document progress report of IHR (2005) implementation using the electronic State Party Annual Reporting Tool (eSPAR) for 2023
- Review progress on the implementation of the recommendations of the Joint External Evaluation (JEE) as detailed in the NAPHS.
- Update the existing NAPHS using the updated NAPHS matrix and prioritize activities for the annual operational plan (AOP) of 2024.
- Discuss the plans for the country’s second JEE that is slated for the second quarter of 2024.
The facilitators included technical officers from WHO South Africa, the NDOH, and the NICD. Participants were multi-disciplinary and included the National IHR Focal Points, Epidemiologists, Communicable Disease Control Coordinators, Disease Surveillance Officers, Laboratory personnel, Port Health Officers, Environmental Health Practitioners from the Department of Health and Border Management Authority, Food Control experts, Antimicrobial Resistance Specialists, Animal Health, Infection Prevention and Control experts, State Security Civil Aviation Authority, and experts from other departments and partners critical to the implementation of the IHR in the country.
During the meeting, participants were updated on the WHO perspective on IHR (2005), as well as the country road map. Participants were also taken through the prioritization, assessment synthesis for quality planning, costing, resource mapping, and budget advocacy processes. The review methodology included plenary updates on the progress report for 2022, as documented on the eSPAR, as well as the status of NAPHS implementation. The participants then worked in groups corresponding to their respective technical areas to update the eSPAR for 2023, review the NAPHS matrix, and develop the annual operational plan for 2024. The recommendations from the first JEE, the after-action review reports, simulation exercises, the one-health national bridging workshop, and the IDSR strategic plan served as the source documents for updating the 2023 eSPAR and the 2024 NAPHS AOP.
This review meeting provided an opportunity for stakeholders to improve their knowledge of IHR and to commit to jointly strengthening the country’s preparedness and response by applying lessons learned from recent emergencies and outbreaks such as COVID-19, cholera, and listeriosis outbreaks. The following proposals from the National IHR Focal Point were adopted by the participants:
- Preparing a debriefing report to the Director-General for Health on the country IHR implementation progress, challenges and key recommendations.
- Finalizing and submitting the 2023 eSPAR country report before the due date in compliance with the IHR requirements
- Conduct a follow up national IHR committee meeting in February 2024 to review progress on the SPAR, the NAPHS AOP, and preparations for the second JEE.
- Conducting self-assessment for JEE in June 2024.
- Conducting the second JEE in August 2024.
- Holding a Public Health Security Conference in November 2024.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO) – South Africa.