A validation workshop is being conducted in Mauritius from 18 to 20 September 2018 in view of critically assess the levels of the country’s core capacities in detecting hazards from all sources and effectively respond to them without disruption of travel and trade. The workshop, a preparatory step for the final visit by the external team of expert of the workshop, aims at validating the self-assessment report and identifying and compiling all reference documents that will be eventually required by the external team of expert during the final visit.
Dr Gujadhur, Director Health Service Public Health welcomed the participants in the name of Ministry of Health and Quality of Life and stated that ‘global public health threats have evolved beyond the four diseases. The world is witnessing new and emerging diseases such as SARS, pandemic influenza virus and recently a new corona virus, which challenge public health and international health security.’ He added, ‘we need to be prepared for such events as well as hazards due to chemical or nuclear sources as seen during the Fukushima disaster.’ He also pointed out ‘the vulnerability of the Mauritian economy to international travel during recent epidemics.’
During his address, Dr Laurent Musango, WHO Representative in Mauritius, explained that the Joint External Evaluation is a data gathering instrument designed to evaluate a country’s capacities for health security, including all IHR and Global Health Security Agenda-relevant capacities across all relevant sectors at a national level. ‘External evaluations should be regarded as an integral part of a continuous process of strengthening capacities for the implementation of the IHR. Country ownership, support from the highest level of government, and involvement of all relevant stockholders should be engaged in the process of JEE of the IHR,’ he said. ‘One of the concrete outcome is to undertake specific measures at ports, airports and ground crossings to limit/minimize as much as possible the health risks to neighbouring countries, and to prevent unwarranted travel and trade restrictions so that traffic and trade disruption is kept to a minimum’, said Dr Musango.
It is to be recalled that the Internal Health Regulation 2005 (IHR) is a legally binding global health security instrument agreed by the 196 member states including all WHO member states. Its governing principle is that a country should have the required core capacities to be able to detect hazards from all sources and effectively respond to them without disruption of travel and trade. In this context, an intersectoral committee with the relevant sectors has been constituted with the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life as the national focal point of IHR (2005).
The workshop is being attended by participants from the relevant ministries: Education, Agro-Industry, Social Security and Labour and representatives from other sectors such as the University of Mauritius, Mauritius Fire and Rescue Services and Radiation Protection Authorities. Health professionals concerned with the subject including the Health Information and Education Unit, Communicable Disease and Control Unit, Central Health Laboratory, Occupational Health, Information Technology as well as the Public Health and Food Safety are also participating in this workshop.