Director-General of the West African Health Organisation (WAHO), Professor Stanley Okolo has charged countries implementing the Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement (REDISSE) project to strive to find innovative strategies to address bottlenecks to achieve optimum population impact.
He noted that a World Bank Implementation Status Report that rated the project performance as moderately satisfactory reflects delays in procurement, implementation and disbursement at country level.
“The above-mentioned delays are also associated with delays in recruiting and training project implementation unit staff, attrition rate of staff associated with changes in governments, as well as the delays in establishing steering committees and multi-sector work plans in the first year of the project,” he said.
Speaking at the opening of the fourth Steering Committee Meeting of REDISSE project in Togo’s capital Lome, he stressed the need to address the challenges to ensure that the objectives of the project are achieved.
He further noted that, to date, the project disbursement rate is low, with an average of 17. 2%, of which 26.6% is for REDISSE 1 countries, 13.7% for REDISSE 2 countries, and 7.2% for REDISSE 3 countries, while WAHO disbursement rate is 53% of the International Development Association (IDA) and 87% of the Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) grant.
Enumerating the successes of the project so far, Prof. Okolo said it has contributed to capacity building in surveillance, preparedness and response to epidemics and public health emergencies in the ECOWAS region and Mauritania.
He mentioned development and validation of regional policies on sample transcript, ECOWAS regional disease outbreak preparedness and response plans, establishment of steering committee and technical committee, establishment of the One Health regional platform, and provision of regional technical assistance to countries as some of the results achieved.
Prof. Okolo also listed the dissemination of epidemiology bulletins, implementation of regional disease outbreak simulation exercise on yellow fever, as well as the strengthening of 47 health district centres of epidemiological surveillance in Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Togo as achievements worthy of commendation.
He assured that WAHO would continue to play its regional co-ordination role to ensure the successful implementation of the REDISSE project.
On his part, Senior Health Specialist at the World Bank, Dr. John Paul Clark applauded the successes chalked so far, but added that there was a lot more work to be done.
He appealed to all countries to participate effectively in the task of preparing towards resilient diseases surveillance and pledged the continuous support of the World Bank.
The REDISSE project is a regional project funded by the World Bank, covering all the 10 ECOWAS countries and Mauritania in five-year phases from 2016 to 2023.
The first phase covers three countries: including Guinea, Senegal and Sierra Leone whiles the second phase will cover four countries: Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Togo with the third phase, covering four countries – Benin, Mali, Niger and Mauritania.
The regional technical assistance was provided by WAHO and WHO, World Animal Health Organisation (OIE), Centre for International Cooperation in Health and Development, Fondation Merieux, Development of advanced level (Master’s) Field Epidemiology and Laboratory training programme with University of Ghana and University of Ouagadougou for first cohorts of 50 participants.