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Worldwide Covid-19 responses illuminate the varying capacities of countries to prepare and react to major public health events. Cloud City is part of the effort to create tools that can help all countries succeed.

Working with Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies, Cloud City built a digital tool designed to help countries accelerate the planning and implementation of their National Action Plan for Health Security (NAPHS). NAPHS is a country-owned, multi-year process that can accelerate the implementation of International Health Regulations (IHR) core capacities—to detect, assess, report, and respond to public health events.

To build a foundation for global health security, WHO member nations signed the IHR in 2005. These regulations outline that all 196 countries need to build their IHR core capacities. These form the basis of the technical area benchmarks used in this tool.

The accessible, customizable digital tool will help countries advance their NAPHS by providing an easy to navigate interface from which to plan, prioritize, and analyze potential interventions and policies.

To improve, an assessment of the current state is needed. The tool uses two different assessments, the Joint External Evaluation (JEE) and State Party Annual Report (SPAR). It is recommended that nations choose whichever evaluation is more recent for them. There are options to build both one-year and five-year plans.

The first portion of the tool lays out technical areas, indicators, current score, and goals. Capacity scores for both JEE and SPAR assessments range from 1 (no capacity) to 5 (sustainable capacity).

The second portion of the tool lists the benchmarks for each indicator that the country should currently work towards and allows users to create a draft plan. Note that they are not one size fits all solutions, but rather starting points from which to progressively improve.

The above screenshot shows Benchmark 4.1, which has actions related to zoonotic diseases surveillance. An action in this benchmark is to expand laboratory-enhanced surveillance for all pathogens at all levels. The United States’ current score for this particular action is a “3”, so the country-planner would then use this part of the tool to review activities that will help raise the score one level up, to a 4.

Decision-makers have the ability to prioritize both technical areas and actions. This will require thoughtful consideration, as the JEE assessment tool has 19 technical areas, while the SPAR assessment based tool has 13. Even though there are often more than a dozen activities per technical area, countries are encouraged to set realistic goals, prioritize, and synergize with high-priority activities.

These are important decisions that will affect people everywhere. With www.benchmarks.org, country planners don’t have to start from scratch, they’re now provided with a huge starting point for planning. What used to be a 300+ page PDF with buried planning information is now a digitized easy-to-use platform that will accelerate implementation through better planning.


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