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WHO Western Pacific and WHO Philippines conduct strategic workshop for strengthened regional COVID-19 response

WHO PH workshop

WHO Philippines staff attended the strategic workshop for COVID-19 response last 23 to 24 July at Diamond Hotel, Manila. WHO/ K Siaga


To effectively support the response to the COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines, the World Health Organization Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO) and WHO Philippines conducted a two-day workshop on strengthening regional operations from strategy to implementation.

Held last 23 to 24 July 2020 in Manila and funded by the European Union (EU), participants included the WHO country office leads and staff assigned to support regional responses through partnering with the Department of Health (DOH) and local government units (LGUs).

The workshop was designed to equip staff in pandemic response capacities through the introduction to the Western Pacific Strategic Response Plan aimed at early breaking of COVID-19 chains of transmission and improving patient management outcomes. Towards this end, topics discussed included COVID-19 testing and treatment, contact tracing and management, surveillance, monitoring of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), and risk communications, among others.

During the workshop, Dr Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO Representative in the Philippines, emphasized the strategic activities to be supported by WHO country office in supporting the Government response to the pandemic.

“Considering the evolving situation in the country since March, it is imperative that extra attention be given to strengthen early contact tracing and management, risk communications, epidemiological surveillance, strengthening healthcare pathways and incident command systems and protecting vulnerable populations,” Dr. Abeyasinghe said.

During the workshop, participants were given detailed information on these key areas via presentations of subject matter experts. On the first day, contact tracing, non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), laboratory and community engagement were discussed. The participants were asked to consider these with special attention to more vulnerable groups such as the urban poor in informal settlements, the elderly, and locally stranded individuals (LSIs) and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs).

On the second day the participants learned the importance of risk communication and afterwards engaged in strategic plan development. It was emphasized that knowledge in strategic communication is needed in crafting key messages related to all aspects of the response. The importance of risk communication to encourage the public to adopt the key health practices (hand hygiene, cough etiquette and physical distancing) and reaching audiences without access to television and social media was highlighted.

The outcome of the workshop, will help WHO Staff better support their counterparts in the DOH and LGUs to strategically strengthen the COVID-19 response in their areas.