UNAIDS participates with WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean and other partners in the launch of a new online training resource on “Primary health care (PHC) practice in the context of COVID-19”, tomorrow, Monday, 7 September 2020.

The online training aims to support PHC personnel in their efforts to maintain essential services and to effectively assist in controlling the pandemic. It focuses on four main areas: maintaining essential health services; preventing COVID-19 through supporting effective public health measures; diagnosing COVID-19 cases and ensuring adequate referral; and managing mild and moderate COVID-19 cases.

Maintaining essential services for all is critical at these times in which immunization, maternal, child and adolescent health services, as well as efforts to control and treat communicable and noncommunicable diseases and provide mental health services, are being interrupted due to COVID-19 and are jeopardizing hard earned health gains.

This online training is the outcome of joint collaboration between the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO), World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA) and United Nations partners, including the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), to ensure that primary health care is integrated into national COVID-19 response plans.

Coming amid many challenges facing health systems in the Region and beyond, including the very real need to control COVID-19, the launch of this PHC training resource is timely. It also corresponds with the need to ensure a comprehensive approach to COVID-19, where all levels of care are mobilized and complement one another ensuring to reach the most vulnerable.

During his opening speech, Dr. Gurumurthy Rangaiyan, Regional Director a.i for UNAIDS, expressed: “COVID‐19 has shown that health programmes and services cannot be fragmented. UNAIDS believes that strengthening health systems and expanding the scope of primary health care and community led services will lift the burden of secondary and tertiary health facilities. UNAIDS has always stressed on the crucial role of health care providers and advocates for the rights of accessing quality and equal services, while advocating for the rights and wellbeing of healthcare providers.”

At the country level in Egypt, Dr. Walid Kamal, UNAIDS Egypt Country Manager said: “It is a great opportunity for all partners to work together and consolidate information to reach health care providers in the MENA region. I encourage Egyptian healthcare providers to register for the online training. It will benefit them at different levels.”

The course content will be updated periodically, and the trainees will receive certificates of completion from WHO accredited for 15 hours under the category I credit system of the American Association of Continuing Medical Education (AACME).

Development partners strongly encourage PHC physicians, working in the public and private sectors in the Region, to undertake this training.

On a country level, Dr. Walid Kamal, UNAIDS Egypt Country Manager, stated: “ it is a great chance for all the partners to work together and unify the information to reach healthcare providers in the MENA region. I encourage Egyptian healthcare providers to enroll in the online training. It is going to benefit them on different levels.”

The virtual launch of this important initiative will take place in the presence of heads of United Nations agencies and other organizations, the President of WONCA in the Eastern Mediterranean Region and ministers of health of the Region, who will have an opportunity to provide feedback on the course.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN Information Centre in Cairo.