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WHO ‘health emergency assessment’ team visits Portugal

Part of pilot project to assess and strengthen (future) response

A team from the World Health Organization (WHO) is visiting Portugal this week as part of a pilot project that aims to assess and strengthen the response to public health emergencies.

According to Portugal’s Directorate-General of Health (DGS), the inaugural session of the visit is today at the headquarters of national medicines agency, Infarmed, in Lisbon.

It will be attended by Jaouad Mahjour, the WHO’s deputy director-general for emergency preparedness, Gerald Rockenschaub, director of the WHO Europe emergency programme, and Stella Chungong, WHO director for health security.

Says the blurb, “the aim is to assess Portugal’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the preliminary results of this first visit to be presented at a meeting on Friday, again in the Infarmed auditorium.

“The WHO visit to Portugal is timely at a time of reflection on the pandemic and the lessons learned, which will strengthen mechanisms, resources, equipment and intersectoral processes with a positive impact on the response to public health emergencies,” the DGS said in a statement.

According to the entity, the team’s visit is part of the WHO’s Universal Health and Preparedness Review (UHPR), an initiative that “aims to strengthen the sharing of health resources with partners in the areas of environment, animal health, defence, internal administration, gender equality, among others, as part of the preparation and response to public health emergencies.”

Portugal is a pilot country in this initiative, which is “intended to be an opportunity to fine-tune the global instruments for assessing the capacity of UN Member States,” according to the DGS.

Working groups are to be set up with institutions from different sectors and visits made to the Northern region, Lisbon/Vale do Tejo, and the Algarve.

The final results of the team’s work are to be presented at a session of the World Health Assembly, the WHO’s decision-making body.

From another perspective, this is further sign that authorities envisage ‘more global health emergencies in future’ – a prediction ever-present throughout the Covid pandemic which, to be fair, is taking its time to be relinquished.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com /source: Lusa