Successful kick-off meeting between the Ministry of Health Suriname, PAHO/WHO Suriname, and the RIVM
Suriname, February 21, 2023 (PAHO) – On behalf of the Surinamese Government and the Pan-American Health Organization / World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) will perform an Intra Action Review (IAR) for the COVID-19 pandemic. The RIVM is a research institute in the Netherlands that operates under the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and its mission is to promote public health and a safe and sustainable living environment through research, monitoring, and policy advice. The RIVM is a WHO Collaboration Center for International Health Regulations.
An Intra Action Review (IAR) is a facilitated discussion to reflect on actions taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, identify gaps and lessons learned and propose recommendations to strengthen responses to future pandemics. An IAR is important as it provides a chance to evaluate current response measures, learn from the actions taken during the pandemic, identify functional bottlenecks, and improve preparedness and response systems for future outbreaks.
The importance of COVID-19 IAR in Suriname
The COVID pandemic has created challenges worldwide in response capacity, infrastructure, resources, and financing, particularly for small countries like Suriname with economic problems and limited infrastructure, who have adopted a tailored response approach. Because the Surinamese government has the ambition to renew and strengthen the public health care system, it has requested PAHO to implement this COVID-19 IAR to strengthen their public healthcare system, with RIVM supporting the evaluation in Dutch.
According to Oscar Mesones Lapouble, Technical Officer, Tropical and Vector-borne Diseases from the PAHO/WHO Suriname office:
“Requesting a COVID-19 IAR denotes the country's seriousness in opening the doors to review the response to COVID-19 pandemic. PAHO has a work plan in International Health Regulations (IHR) and this evaluation helps us to align our internal processes of technical cooperation.”
The IAR's methodology is based on the WHO's methodology, which focuses on 10 "pillars" (focus areas) relevant in the context of the COVID-19 response. In coordination with the Ministry of Health, a number of these focus areas have been selected for review. This selection was made on the basis of perceived relevance and to limit the burden on local government as much as possible. Together with the Ministry, an inventory has been made of which stakeholders are important to participate in these reviews. These are then invited for interviews and/or focus group sessions to jointly discuss and analyze the issues involved, identify strong and weak elements in order to provide concrete advice to improve the future response to major outbreaks or pandemics.
The identified priority areas of focus are:
- Pillar 1: Coordination, planning, financing and monitoring
- Pillar 3: Surveillance, epidemiological research, contact research and taking measures for public health and the social environment
- Pillar 5: Laboratories and diagnostics
- Pillar 8: Operational support and logistics, and the procurement and management of resources and materials.
The kick-off meeting took place on February 20, 2023, highlighting the importance of the IAR in the context of Suriname and what IAR participants can expect during this review. The interviews are scheduled for the last two weeks of February, and provisional feedback will take place on March 2. At the end of March, the final report is expected to be available.