Collaborative Engagement of Health Professional Associations in Ethiopia’s COVID-19 Response: Achievements and Lessons Learned
Introduction: Effective and speedy response to a public health crisis such as the covid-19 pandemic requires collaboration. Therefore, Ethiopian health professional associations formed a scientific advisory council in March 2020 to provide collaborative technical assistance to the Ministry of Health (MOH) in the national COVID-19 pandemic response. In this paper, we reflect on achievements and lessons learned in the collaborative partnership between health professional associations and the MOH in the COVID-19 response.
Achievements and challenges: The scientific advisory council created a platform for coordinated communication between professional associations and the MOH, which provided technical assistance on preventive and control measures and established a web-based information repository to share credible and locally relevant COVID-19 resources to health workers. Professional associations also cooperatively provided COVID-19 training to health workers, engaged the media for public health education and advocacy, and called for better protection and support of health workers. However, the lack of institutional arrangement for collaboration, delay in implementation of recommendations, decrease in engagement of scientific advisory council members over time, and shortage of funding was observed as challenges in the collaborative engagement of professional associations.
Conclusion and recommendation: The COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented opportunities for a collaborative partnership between professional associations and the MOH. We believe this partnership contributed to reducing the spread of COVID-19 and saved many lives. Going forward, the partnership should be formalized to ensure effective and sustainable relationships and this partnership should be upgraded to engage professional associations in co-creating, implementing, and monitoring health policies and programs. [Ethiop. J. Health Dev. 2021; 35(SI-4):00-00]
Keywords: Professional Associations, Covid-19, Partnership