A team of WHO experts is currently in Azerbaijan, working with the national response committee to develop a 3–6-month national preparedness and response plan for COVID-19, APA reports.
The 6 members of the WHO team are providing guidance on a full range of measures including:
- response planning;
- maintaining essential health services and business continuity;
- a surveillance strategy from searching for cases to supporting national testing laboratories;
- hospital preparedness and the clinical management of cases;
- infection prevention and control for home care and at national borders;
- ensuring availability of essential medicines, diagnostics and health-care equipment;
- developing a risk communications strategy to share information, engage with communities and influencers, and manage rumours;
- advising on the recommended measures related to travel and trade in order to minimize disruption;
- identifying opportunities for further collaboration through international partnerships.
To date, Azerbaijan has confirmed a small number of imported cases of COVID-19. The country shares a border with Iran, where many cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed.
During the 5-day mission on 9–13 March, the team is coordinating with the Ministry of Health and the Agency for Health Care Management (TABIB), and visiting national and regional hospitals, Food Safety Agency laboratories, the Azerbaijan Medical University and points of entry.
The mission is facilitated by the WHO Country Office in Azerbaijan, which provides leadership on international health and ongoing guidance and support to national authorities and partners on a range of health issues. These issues include tackling noncommunicable diseases, providing quality care for mothers and babies, and ensuring equal access to quality primary health care.
Testing and personal protective equipment supplies from WHO
Azerbaijan is 1 of the 17 countries in the WHO European Region that is receiving laboratory testing kits. The first round of kits was distributed in February, and a second round is currently being shipped. The country will also be receiving personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline health-care workers caring for patients with suspected and confirmed COVID-19, and laboratory staff who are testing swabs of suspected cases.
Pledge to support global response efforts
The Government of Azerbaijan is contributing to global efforts to address COVID-19, coordinating with neighbouring countries, and has pledged US$ 5 million to WHO’s strategic preparedness and response plan. This plan outlines the activities and resources needed by international health organizations globally, including WHO, to implement priority public health measures in support of countries to prepare for and respond to COVID-19 until April 2020. It covers international coordination and operational support, scaling up country readiness and response operations, and accelerating priority research and innovation.