July 1, New York: Under the theme of “Build Back Better: Harnessing South-South Cooperation and Risk Reduction Planning for Resilient and Healthy Cities in the Post-COVID-19 Era”, the fourth and the final session of the joint online training programme was held on June 29, focusing on cities innovative experiences on reopening and adjusting disaster risk reduction measures.
The training programme, which started on June 8, was jointly organized by UNDRR GETI, UNOSSC and WHO and served as an introductory training for local authorities and urban development practitioners aimed at improving the understanding and capacities in post-COVID-19 restoration and reconstruction
Overall the training received more than 5000 registrations from 165 countries and territories, and close to 3000 participants joined the sessions live from 155 countries with close to equal gender participation.
The June 29 webinar brought together close to 1,800 participants from 135 countries and territories. During the cities exchange session 4, the local and national authorities from Health Ministry of Mauritius, ICT Division/Cabinet Division of Government of Bangladesh, National Vaccination Program of China CDC, Santiago Regional Health Ministry, Municipal Government of Milan, and Fujian Provincial CDC. Dr. Xiaojun Grace Wang, Deputy Director of UNOSSC opened the webinar and moderated the sessions.
Dr. Mahmad Fazil Khodabocus, Regional Public Health Superintendent from Ministry of Health and Wellness of Mauritius, introduced measures taken by the Mauritius government to manage imported and local cases and updated on the country’s vaccination progress. He also shared approach on contract tracing and the overall governance structure in place in Mauritius for COVID-19 response.
Mr. Anir Chowdhury, Policy Adviser, a2i Programme, ICT Division/Cabinet Division of Bangladesh, spoke about how data innovation created unprecedented opportunities for health service delivery and risk monitoring in Bangladesh and provided advice on collective intelligence for improved policy making. He shared the smart data approach to create a COVID-19 intelligence system and national dashboard which monitored risk map of positive cases and hospital admissions, in addition Bangladesh’s experience in developing COVID-19 socio-economic recovery tracker and the vaccination process flow system.
Dr. Wang Huaqing, Chief Expert and Chief Physician, National Vaccination Program of China CDC, presented China’s experience in vaccination rollout, he presented seven practical measures which have been undertaken in China to ensure an efficient vaccination roll out – Reconfiguring vaccine sites, regulating vaccine protocols, training medical professionals, mapping demographic data and prioritizing vulnerable groups, setting up databases for vaccine records, side effects reporting and Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) monitoring, making available on-site first-aid and post-vaccine follow-up consultations, real-time monitoring vaccine production- “cold chain” storage-shipment, diverting appointments and shifting professionals to ensure efficient administration and full utilization of doses.
In addition to national efforts, local governments and communities also play a critical role in the COVID-19 response. Ms. Pia Venegas Araneda, Head of Public Health and Sanitation Planning of the Regional Secretariat of the Ministry Health, Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile, introduced Santiago’s inclusive immunization policies and progress of the vaccination campaign.
Mr. Piero Pelizzaro, Chief Resilience Officer of Milan, Italy, highlighted Milan’s strategies, actions and projects to adapt to and recover from the pandemic, which included social distancing, public space and wellbeing, as well as the city’s objectives and plans to tackle challenging environmental transition issues.
Ms. Deng Yanqin, Deputy Director and Chief Physician of Fujian Provincial CDC of China, shared in depth on how Fujian implemented strict monitoring, testing and treatment procedures to curb transmission and protect communities from potential risks.
During the session four Dr. Xiaojun Grace Wang, Deputy Director, UNOSSC also shared that UNOSSC believes that learning should continue after the training and goes beyond to build partnerships and formulate concrete project collaborations. Therefore the UNOSSC Cities Project is offering an virtual space called “South-South Cities Cluster” on South-South Galaxy platform, bringing cities, networks of cities, and institutions to interact with UN Specialized agencies and experts in order to facilitate more horizontal cooperation and SDG investments on the ground. The Disaster Risk Reduction & Mitigation in Resilient Cities Cluster was launched during the session.
On behalf of the co-organizers, Mr. Alejandro Agustin Alcantara and Ms. Sophie Portal from WHO congratulated the participants and articulated the five key takeaways of this learning journey. Mr. Sanjaya Bhatia, Head of UNDRR GETI, concluded that to build back better, it requires a “whole of society” and “decisions made in cities” approach; capacity development is key while health and equity are the backbone.