The Somalia Government led by the Federal Ministry of Health underwent a Joint External Evaluation in 2016 which assessed its health security capacities and gave recommendations to improve on each of the 19 core capacities. Currently, the country is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and through this response, several challenges have been experienced and gaps identified. The information from the JEE and COVID-19 pandemic response has re-emphasized the urgent need to invest in strengthening the country’s health security systems.  

In this regard, the National Institute of Health Somalia and the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with WHO, CDC, IOM, UNICEF, Public Health Institute Sweden held a seven-day workshop from 11th to 17th July 2021. In this workshop, a national risk assessment was carried out; senior government officials were sensitized on health security; the Integrated Disease Surveillance System (IDSR) as a key for early warning systems and monitoring the response to a public health event; and Public Health Emergency Operation Centres and their role in preparedness and response through presentations and simulation exercises that were carried out.  Somalia, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and CDC gave their country experiences on having in place a functions PHEOC and surveillance system i.e IDSR, EWARNs and SOMAS.

A total of 60 participants were present in the workshop drawn from the national and state Ministries of human and animal health Somalia, other key participants were senior officials from local universities, partners  (WHO, CDC, IOM, UNICEF, Public Health Institute Sweden) and technical experts from Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and CDC. The deliberations in the workshop informed the development of the country’s 3 years costed IDSR operation plan, risk profile as well as where and how to establish the PHEOCs in Somalia (one national and six state level) and how to finalize on the country’s draft PHEOC handbook and SOPs.