The UKHSA Pakistan in-country team has made a significant contribution to the second Joint External Evaluation (JEE) in Pakistan. UKHSA was officially requested by the federal ministry of health to facilitate the Joint External Evaluation (JEE) exercise for the International Health Regulations (IHR) in Pakistan, both at the federal and the provincial level. It has been an incredible journey of collaboration, exchange of knowledge, experiences and making a positive impact.
The International Health Regulations (IHR) serves as the guiding framework for preventing, detecting, and responding to public health emergencies of international concern. To assess a country’s capacities to prevent, detect and respond to such emergencies, countries volunteer and request an evaluation by the external independent evaluators through a predefined process, called the Joint External Evaluation (JEE), with an aim to strengthen the core capacities and improve compliance on the regulations. Interestingly, UKHSA started working in Pakistan after formal invitation by the country to assist in compliance with IHR-2005, following the recommendation made in the first JEE in 2016. After 6 years, Pakistan requested WHO to carry out the second JEE to analyze improvements and to gauge status of IHR compliance.
The JEE exercise commenced in February 2023 and finally concluded in May 2023, using the latest version (version 3.0) of the JEE tool which consisted of 19 areas, each further segregated into sub-areas, the total capacities amounting to 56. This JEE comprised of two phases, in the self-assessment phase, dedicated professionals from all provinces and from multiple sectors from within the country evaluated health system’s readiness to prevent, detect and respond to emergencies. In the external evaluation phase, a WHO team visited Pakistan and held robust consultative discussions and made assessment visits to score all 56 areas on configurated grades.
The UKHSA team supported the Pakistan Federal Ministry of Health and WHO in both phases of this JEE exercise. As members of the National JEE team, the UKHSA team’s role was to facilitate the JEE activities and to advise the mission in areas of our expertise and to liaise with provincial and federal health departments to prepare them for the exercise.
Throughout this mission, the UKHSA contribution encompassed providing technical advice, expert analysis and facilitating discussions and knowledge exchange among stakeholders, including government officials from different sectors, which helped in understanding the challenges and finding collaborative solutions.
Additionally, the UKHSA team participated in the processes of identifying tailored recommendations which will guide Pakistan towards developing a roadmap to enhance their preparedness and response capabilities. Throughout the JEE activities, the Govt of Pakistan and partners formally acknowledged and applauded UKHSA’s positive contribution to the JEE process, which will pave the way for future strengthening of IHR capacity and capability in Pakistan.