The OECS Regional Health Project is a five (5) year project supported by the World Bank and aims to improve preparedness capacities of health systems for public health emergencies in the OECS region. A regional approach is needed because limited fiscal capacity and vulnerability to economic and climate-related shocks has yielded limited success inadequately preparing for public health emergencies. This project intends to build resilience, contain cross-border transmission of disease outbreaks, and mitigate disruptions in the aftermath of an extreme weather event and climate change impacts. The project commitment amount is US$30.6 million including US$21 million in IDA loans to Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and US$9.6 million in grant funds to CARPHA (US 6.6 mil) and the OECS Commission (US 3mil). The project runs from August 2019 to July 31, 2024.
Expected Project Impact
- Rapid detection and response of priority infectious diseases
- Coordinated public health emergency management.
- Continuity of care following a public health emergency.
- Resilient health facilities and improved laboratory capacity through the implementation of Smart Health Facility recommendations at select health facilities and laboratories
- Technical capacities in place through progress in achieving the IHR core capacities with a focus on capacities 4 (response) and 5 (preparedness)
- Coordinated regional and national preparedness and response action plans for priority infectious disease
Activities to be undertaken
- Upgrade health facilities and their networks, improve laboratory capacity
- Develop regional lab quality assurance, reference lab, its interoperability, and transportation and cold chain
- Develop/update protocols and harmonized procedures on infectious disease surveillance
- Strengthen Health Information System (HIS) for national data collection, Geographical Information System (GIS) for regional mapping, and regional Information Communication Technology (ICT) platform for surveillance
- Update emergency plans, biohazard waste management systems, and Emergency Operation Centres (EOCs)
- Develop training and simulation curriculum for the country-level health workforce, lab technicians, Field Epidemiology Training Programme (FETP)
Component 1: Health Facilities and Laboratory Capacity US$17.42 million
This component focuses on improving resilience and capacity of select health facilities and laboratories to provide services to manage a public health emergency, including an emerging disease outbreak, extreme weather event or other disasters.
- Health Facilities Infrastructure and Referral Networks focuses on the development of (i) resilient health facilities in participating countries; and (ii) facility inventory at the regional level, to inform the development of emergency coordination mechanism
- Laboratory Infrastructure and Capacity Building support investments in laboratory infrastructure and capacity to improve efficiency and quality of laboratory network in the region, including climate-resilient and energy-efficient design where possible
Component 2: Public Health Surveillance, Preparedness and Response US$9.27 million
This component supports efforts to strengthen public health preparedness, including improving surveillance and emergency response through the improvement of national and regional capacities and promotion of cross-border collaboration.
Public Health Surveillance
- National level – (a) Improving information base for surveillance through training and investments in Health Information Systems; (b) addressing points of vulnerability through improved surveillance in targeted areas and high-risk groups; (c) support to national vector control programs and implementation of Field Epidemiology Training Programme (FETP)
- Regional level – (a) expansion of intermediate/advanced FETP; (b) improvements in surveillance reporting to/from regional level; (c) development of an information and communication platform for surveillance and management including GIS
- Strengthening national and regional emergency management and response capacities to respond swiftly and effectively to outbreak threats
- Support to improve country and regional surge capacity to ensure rapid response during an emergency, including those induced by climate change
Component 3: Institutional Capacity Building and Project Management US$3.91 million
This component focuses on supporting critical building blocks for strong implementation and coordination of this regional project. It targets specific institutional capacity building activities and project management and coordination activities including financing personnel for project execution, and regional coordination platforms for knowledge sharing among implementing entities.
Component 4: Contingent Emergency Response Component (CERC) US$0 million
This component can provide immediate surge funding in the event of a public health emergency, such as a disease outbreak. It can be triggered in the case of a public health emergency and when certain actions, as agreed by the Government and Bank teams, are met. These actions can include: (i) the country declares a national public health emergency; and (ii) presents a sound and actionable country-level response plan
The project became effective in late 2019, and as such began to be implemented just before the introduction of COVID-19. The project is well-aligned with the needed response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the crisis has allowed participating OECS member states to activate the Contingency Emergency Response Component CERC, to support that response. All partners were able to accelerate relevant activities.
The OECS Commission has forged ahead with its implementation plan despite the challenges of the pandemic and to date has been able to accomplish the following:
- Commenced Consultancy aimed at supporting the OECS Pooled Procurement Services (PPS) in operationalizing the Supply Chain Management of pooled Laboratory equipment and supplies on behalf of Member States.
- Commenced Consultancy for developing a Health Facilities Inventory and GIS Mapping of all Emergency Care facilities and Services on the islands of Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia and St Vincent & the Grenadines.
- Commenced Consultancy for the Implementation of Policy and Legislation & Development of Resource budgets and plans for countries to meet Tier 1 and Tier 2 requirements for Laboratory Quality Management Systems (LQMS). With the aim of improving the efficiency and quality of the laboratory network in the region.
- Commenced consultancy for carrying out a Risk Assessment and developing an Action Plan for the implementation of the OECS Unique ID.