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Sharing COVID-19 experiences: The Mongolian response

COVID-19 has proved to be a real-life test of Mongolia’s emergency preparedness system. On 10 March 2020, the country was shaken by the news of its first confirmed case of COVID-19. Yet long before the first case was announced, the Government and the public had readied itself for such a scenario.

Starting on 6 January 2020, a multi-sectoral incident management team with more than 70 officials from 21 agencies covering health, transportation, border control, law enforcement, state administration, emergency management, communications, information and more worked in unison to contain the potential spread of the disease. The foundations of the shared strategy were solidarity, early preventive measures, multi-sectoral partnership and a culture of continuous improvement, supported by WHO.

Ten months later, Mongolia has recorded no deaths from the virus, 346 imported cases and no local transmission.

WHO’s Representative for Mongolia, Dr Sergey Diorditsa, said “In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mongolia has undertaken prompt response measures to protect the health of its people, health workers and frontline responders, and reduce the risk of potential outbreak in the local community. Many factors including solidarity across all sectors and all levels, multi-sectoral collaboration, risk communication and community engagement have been key to Mongolia’s success.”

Mongolia’s approach has been based on lessons from outbreaks of SARS in 2003, H1N1 in 2009 and seasonal influenza, using WHO’s Asia Pacific Strategy for Emerging Diseases and Public Health Emergencies (APSED) to prepare for the next pandemic. It focused on extensive testing and contact tracing, a well-prepared health system and a high level of community awareness of measures to protect and promote health.

Determined to make every effort to keep COVID-19 out, in early May 2020, Mongolia organized a large-scale national simulation exercise to test its response preparedness. The simulation exercise identified major gaps in the system and reinforced the need for continuous improvement.

Mongolia is using these insights to also strengthen its national health capacity, with the help of partners, to prepare not only for COVID-19, but also for future outbreaks and health emergencies. Three areas of focus are strengthening its capacity to monitor, prevent and control the spread and effects of COVID-19; strengthening laboratory capacity at national and sub-national levels; and ensuring continuity and quality of essential health care services.

Aware that the global pandemic is not yet over, Mongolia is doing its best to prepare for a better future with everyone acting in solidarity.

https://youtu.be/LKA9UeN5rhk and in Mongolian https://youtu.be/k95zeEdfnrU