Viet Nam self-evaluates emergency preparedness

The Ministry of Health (MOH), led by the General Department of Preventive Medicine (GDPM), in collaboration with other government agencies and international organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Representative Office in Viet Nam, conducted an assessment of the country’s core capacities to manage disease outbreaks and other public health emergencies from 17 to 18 October 2018 in Hai Phong.

Since 2012, Viet Nam has organized annual workshops – the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005) self-assessment – to evaluate its core capacities for emergencies, including on legislation and financing, coordination and national IHR foal point function, zoonosis, food safety, laboratory, surveillance, human resources, national health emergency framework, health service provision, risk communication, points of entry, chemical events and radiation emergencies. This year’s self-assessment in Viet Nam included a visit in health quarantine posts at two points of entry in the country. The visit provided an opportunity for the evaluation team to have a closer look at how an IHR (2005) capacity is exercised in the field.

“General Department of Preventive Medicine of the MOH, Viet Nam, as the National Focal Point for IHR, strongly commits to the implementation of the IHR. In 2014, Viet Nam has become one of the countries in the Region recognized to achieve the IHR’s core capacity requirements. Strengthening IHR capacities requires active engagement, harmonious working relationships and close collaboration among units of different ministries and branches. The IHR self-assessment determines the country’s current capacity level, successes and challenges, and the gaps of the implementation,” said Dr Tan Dang Quang, Deputy Director General, GDPM.

The IHR (2005) self-assessment team led by the Ministry of Health officials explain health quarantine procedures conducted in Dinh Vu Sea Port (top) and Cat Bi International Airport in Hai Phong, Viet Nam (Photo: WHO)

“Conducting the annual IHR self-assessment demonstrates Viet Nam’s strong commitment in improving its IHR (2005) core capacities and taking its part in the global initiative to protect more people from health emergencies. Findings from the annual IHR self-assessment should be translated into the country’s IHR Master Plan to further strengthen and maintain core capacities systematically through the whole-of-government approach,” Dr Kidong Park, WHO Representative in Viet Nam, talked about the importance of the IHR self-assessment findings as the Ministry of Health finalizes the National Plan for IHR(2005) Implementation in Viet Nam (IHR Master Plan). “It is expected that this year’s IHR self-assessment will provide us with the most updated insights on the status of health emergency preparedness in the country, which will be beneficial in further strengthening the IHR Master Plan,” he added.

All State Parties to the IHR (2005) – a legally binding agreement – including Viet Nam, are required to build and strengthen their core capacities to manage public health events. The IHR (2005) Monitoring and Evaluation Framework provides approaches, including the self-assessment, to review implementation of relevant country core public health capacities. Following recommendations from high-level global consultations conducted from 2015 to 2018, the new IHR State Party Self-assessment Annual Reporting Tool was developed. Viet Nam used this new tool for the first time in its 2018 evaluation. As in previous years, the results of this year’s self-assessment would be publicly available in time for the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland in May 2019.