Improved testing, contact tracing and data management: WHO revealed key recommendations to Azerbaijan COVID-19 response

BAKU, 31 July 2020 – The 10-day WHO mission to support the COVID-19 response in Azerbaijan recommended improving data collection and analysis, strengthening contact tracing and enhancing testing strategy.

“This week marks six months since WHO declared COVID-19 a public health emergency of international concern. The timing for this mission allowed to reflect on the experience of the pandemic response in Azerbaijan from epidemiological, clinical and communication perspectives and to see how we can build on this valuable knowledge in the coming months”, said Dr Hande Harmanci, WHO Representative/Head of Country Office.

The WHO experts acknowledged the achievements of Azerbaijan in the course of the COVID-19 response including the substantial financial and human resource investments, extensive use of the digital tools for surveillance and public communications, and improvement of care of the patients with COVID-19.

“We observed significant progress in the COVID-19 pandemic response in Azerbaijan. The previous WHO mission held in March developed fifty-eight recommendations, approximately two-thirds of which were fully or partially implemented”, said Dr David Novillo Ortiz, WHO mission team lead, Unit Head Health Information at WHO/Europe. “As the pandemic evolves, new challenges arise. Improvement of the surveillance, testing strategy and thorough data analysis will help to take evidence-based decisions, including implementation of public health measures.”

Within the mission, WHO/Europe experts in epidemiology and surveillance, data management, health facility management and risk communications worked together with the national health authorities and local experts to assess the progress and identify areas for improvement in the country’s response mechanisms. The specialists visited primary health care centres and hospitals in Baku as well as Shamakhi and Ganja regions to make observations and gain insights.

Strengthening health partnerships for better preparedness and response

In addition to the provision of technical assistance through two COVID-19 response missions, WHO/Euro and WHO Country Office in Azerbaijan implemented the REACT-C19 – an initiative to exchange expertise between health care workers, use innovative solutions and digital platforms, and strengthen the hospital response to COVID-19. WHO CO is also implementing the EU-funded “Solidarity for Health Initiative” project which supplies PPEs to frontline responders in health care facilities and provides technical assistance to the government.

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