50 taken on board African Health Volunteer Corps



LERIBE – As part of the Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) Flagship Initiative to ensure health security in Africa, the Government of Lesotho launched the African Health Volunteer Corps (AVoHC)-SURGE on-boarding training for 50 responders in Leribe this week. AVoHC is a network of African medical and public health professionals established by the African Union (AU) to support the response to public health emergencies across the continent.

The training was part of the EPR Flagship Initiative Roadmap, launched on March 19, 2024, with support from the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Regional Office for Africa and funding from the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO).

In 2023, Lesotho enrolled in the WHO EPR Flagships initiative with the primary goal of promoting health security in the African Region and contributing to Sustainable Development Goal 3: ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all ages.

Speaking at the launch, EPR Flagship Coordinator Zewdu Assefa Edea said WHO is implementing three EPR flagship initiatives: Promoting the Resilience of Systems for Emergencies (PROSE), Transforming African Surveillance Systems (TASS), and Strengthening and Utilising Response Groups for Emergencies (SURGE).

The training was part of the four pillars of SURGE’s flagship initiative, specifically the workforce pillar. Edea said the AVoHC-SURGE training would be delivered in two phases: the first phase is the on-boarding training, and the second phase involves specialised, in-depth training. Participants were drawn from multiple sectors, considering the One Health approach, and were selected through a rigorous process led by a multi-sectoral selection committee.

In his remarks, Chairperson of the Social Cluster for Lesotho, Mokhothu Makhalanyane, thanked WHO for their continuous financial and technical support in strengthening the health sector. “The Kingdom of Lesotho is excited about this training as it focuses on enhancing SURGE capacity in the country during public health emergencies by equipping professionals with the knowledge and skills needed to ensure quality care delivery under intense pressure,” he said.

WHO Representative to Lesotho, Dr. Richard Banda, explained that this initiative, coordinated by the WHO and Africa CDC, aims to strengthen Member States’ capacity to prepare for, detect, and respond to health emergencies. He reiterated WHO’s commitment to continue working with the government and partners to build a strong, multidisciplinary workforce for health emergencies in the country.

Additionally, the National Coordinator for Africa CDC in Lesotho, Ester Muchenje, expressed her hope that this training will produce the much-needed pool of health professionals capable of responding to emergencies within 24 to 48 hours in Lesotho and throughout the continent.

Lesotho is one of 23 countries currently implementing the flagship initiative, and it is the 18th country where at least a module of training is being conducted. A total of 17 countries have already completed the on-boarding training.

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