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Public Health Emergency
Public Health Emergency

Public health emergencies that are caused by natural or human made disasters are becoming very

common their consequences are enormous. Such public health emergencies cause social disruption and economic loss in addition to high degree of morbidity and mortality. Furthermore, regular health care services are also hampered by recurrent and emerging public health emergencies. This in turn aggravates public health problems. To undertake appropriate health measures during events of disaster and public health threats and to ensure risk based preparedness and early warning, public health emergencies is a priority for the country in general and for the health sector in particular.
Due to this, the Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institute have established a Public Health Emergency Management (PHEM) center which is in charge of preparedness, early warning, response and recovery of public health emergencies.
These PHEM process is designed to ensure rapid detection of any public health threats, preparedness related to logistic and fund administration, and prompt response to and recovery from various public health emergencies, which range from recurrent epidemics, emerging infections, nutritional emergencies to chemical spills and bioterrorism.
Its objective is to markedly reduce mortality and morbidity due to epidemics and other PHEs and minimize associated social and economic crisis.

What does Public health emergency management (PHEM) mean?

Public health emergency management is the process of anticipating, preventing, preparing for, detecting, responding to, controlling and recovering from consequences of public health threats in order that health and economic impacts are minimised.

What is early warning?

The identification of a public health threat by closely and frequently monitoring identified indicators and predicting the risk it poses on the health of the Public and the health system. The purpose of early warning is to enable the provision of timely and effective information to the public and to responders, through identified institutions that allow preparing for effective response or taking action to avoid or reduce risk.

What are the Public health emergencies threats in Ethiopia?

Public health emergencies are events or disasters that threaten the health of communities or groups of people. Some examples are disease outbreaks (emerging & reemerging) and pandemics, natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, droughts, volcanoes; biological terrorist attacks such as an anthrax release, and chemical spills.

Organizational setup and responsibilities of PHEM center

The responsibilities of the PHEM Center are as follows:
Coordinate and assist all efforts to improve the preparedness of the health sector to prevent or reduce the public health consequences of outbreaks of diseases including malnutrition, natural disasters, industrial or technological accidents, displacement of populations, civil unrest, conflicts or acts of terrorism and any other emergency or disaster situations. In particular, the Center will be responsible to:
Identify, assess and monitor existing or potential threats to the public health
  • Coordinate and ensure the formulation of preparedness plans for all types of public health emergencies at national, regional or Woreda levels
  • Strengthen the Public Health Emergency Management capacity of the human resources of the health sector through direct training and coordination/ assistance to efforts to be undertaken by the Academic Institutions, other departments of the MOH or other health actors.
  • Issue alerts and warning to the general public regarding potential public health emergencies or disasters
  • Maintain and administer a stockpile of supplies and equipment required for rapid response to public health emergencies
  • Ensure that Ethiopia meets its international health security obligations in particular those under the International Health Regulations adopted in 2005.
  • Mobilize the government health resources to respond rapidly and effectively to the health consequences
  • Coordinate and supervise the response of the Regional, Zonal and Woreda Health Offices in all emergencies with potential public health impact outside their respective area of responsibility
  • Support and assist Regional, Zonal and Woreda Health Offices to respond to and coordinate public health emergencies of local significance
  • Issue bulletins and release information on the health situation, priorities and needs in all public health emergencies
  • Issue technical guidelines and coordinate the humanitarian health assistance provided by partners such as the Red Cross System, bilateral, multilateral or international agencies, national or international Non Governmental Organizations, the private sector and any other institution.

PHEM center is organized as two teams at national level; i.e. Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Capacity Building Team and Early Warning & Communication Team
Major responsibilities of each team within PHEM are summarized as follows:

A) Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Capacity Building Team

  • Public health emergency preparedness, which involve both activities directed at preventing possible public health emergencies and activities directed at planning to ensure an adequate response if an emergency occurs. Although strong prevention measures have an important role in mitigating public health problems, it is not feasible to eliminate all biological or chemical disease threats. Therefore, the team must also engage in planning exercises to ensure that, in the event of a public health emergency, emergency medical services are available to treat the sick and public health interventions can be mobilized to minimize the spread of disease and disability throughout the population.
  • Gap filling, capacity building and system development/strengthening, i.e. monitoring available response resources, establishing action protocols, simulating emergency events to improve readiness, training public and private-sector personnel, assessing communication capabilities, supplies, and resources, and maintaining relationships with partner organizations to improve coordination are also important elements of the public health emergency preparedness.

B) Early Warning & Communication Team

  • Identify threats to public health; and specify variables to be monitored;
  • Establish/ activate a center to coordinate all responses and responders; and assemble and disseminate timely information to responders, their agencies and the public.
  • Collect, analyze, and interpret data; predict and prepare alerts and warnings, communicate this information to those who are to take action, disseminate to all concerned, provide feedback and risk communication to the public;
  • Detect at an early stage or predict epidemics/emergencies and provide alert and warnings to public health managers, health care providers and then to the public.
  • Monitor the alert and warning and the response activities and take corrective action.
  • Develop training materials and training around early warning;
  • Develop programs, procedures, guidelines, formats and systems; and
  • Review training materials and standardized formats.
  • Detecting a disease outbreak;
  • Conducting epidemiological investigations to ascertain the nature of a disease epidemic;
  • Performing lab analyses to support surveillance & epidemiological investigation;
  • Pursuing public health interventions to limit the spread of disease;
  • Assuring the provision of emergency medical treatment and prophylaxis;
  • Remediating environmental conditions. Public health authorities may play a role in decontaminating the sites and facilities found to be exposed to disease agents;
  • Preventing secondary public health emergencies following a disaster; and
  • Assessment of damage and restoration of public health services in the aftermath of major disasters.

What are the diseases or events that are required to be reported or notified?

The following are lists that we require you to report either formally or informally:

Immediately Reportable Diseases Weekly Reportable Diseases
1. Acute Flaccid Paralysis / Polio
2. Anthrax
3. Avian Human Influenza
4. Cholera
5. Dracunculiasis / Guinea worm
6. Measles
7. Neonatal Tetanus
8. Pandemic Influenza A
9. Rabies
10. Smallpox
11. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
12. Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers
13. Yellow fever

14. Dysentery
15. Malaria
16. Meningococcal Meningitis
17. Relapsing fever
18. Severe Malnutrition
19. Typhoid fever
20. Typhus




In addition to the above reportable diseases and conditions, it is required to report the any emergency illnesses or health conditions that are of concern to the public which need early response.

If you want to report any of the conditions mentioned above please use the contact addresses below to report us immediately:

PHEM contact

Tel: +251 11 275 8631
+251 11 275 8631 OR +251 11 276 5340
Fax: +251 11 275 8634
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.