GENEVA, FEBRUARY 21 – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) today (21/02) launched a USD 17 million strategic plan to support countries in preparing and responding to the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
The plan covers a wide range of interventions like cross-border coordination, trainings and simulations for government employees, population mobility mapping exercises, risk communication and community engagement activities, enhanced surveillance, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene services at entry points to support infection prevention and control.
“We now live in a world where major public health threats like this one cannot adequately be managed without making sure that everyone, including migrants, is taken into account in preparedness and response efforts,” said IOM Director General António Vitorino. “IOM’s plan addresses precisely that while fighting stigma and misinformation, and we call on donors to mobilize resources rapidly to address these critical aspects of the COVID-19 outbreak,” he stressed.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that, since the outbreak began in December 2019, more than 75,000 cases have been confirmed, including over 2,000 fatalities. In January, WHO’s Emergency Committee declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and since then, many countries have taken measures to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak, for example, through surveillance at airports and quarantines.
With more than 430 offices and about 14,000 staff across the world – including thousands working specifically on health and community engagement, IOM is uniquely placed to provide support in international public health emergencies, including outbreaks, as has been the case in the Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Complementing and contributing to WHO’s COVID-19 Global Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, launched earlier this month, the aim of IOM’s USD 17 million strategic plan is primarily to support countries that may need additional resources – financial, technical or operational – to ensure that further infections are prevented and to assist health systems so they have the capacity to cope with new requirements.
In particular, with this plan, IOM stands ready to offer support across seven areas of work: coordination and partnerships; risk communication and community engagement; disease surveillance; enhancement of capacity at airports, seaports and land border crossings; the strengthening of laboratory systems for effective detection; infection prevention and control; and logistics.
Following on a complex prioritization exercise – based on a variety of indicators, including health system capacity, and existing IOM capacity and scale-up opportunities – the bulk of the support, USD 12 million, is to be provided equally to the Asia-Pacific region, and East, West and Southern Africa. The remaining USD 5 million would be used to support the Middle East and North Africa, Europe and Central Asia, and the Americas. (@OnuItalia)