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Senegal takes on epidemic preparedness

Senegal has made significant progress tackling disease outbreaks. The country completed an assessment of its epidemic preparedness capabilities in 2016 and developed a plan to fill critical preparedness gaps the following year. International support has been critical to fledgling implementation efforts – in Senegal and elsewhere – and countries/partners/organizations are growing concerned that funding from abroad will dry up, potentially jeopardizing life-saving efforts to address health threats before they get out of control.

Senegal’s Emergency Operations Center, for instance, has been funded largely through foreign donors since its creation in 2014 in the wake of West Africa’s Ebola scare. So in 2018, the Global Health Advocacy Incubator set out to find ways to increase domestic investment in epidemic preparedness. Within a year, Senegal’s Emergency Operations Center secured, for the first time ever, direct funding through a line item in the annual budget.

The Global Health Advocacy Incubator’s deep connections with decision-makers were crucial in making it happen. We worked closely with administration officials to identify funding opportunities. We analyzed the legal context and political landscape to inform strategy. And we helped government officials make the case for investing in epidemic preparedness during a well-attended educational workshop for National Assembly members.

Our work in Senegal isn’t done. We will continue to work with policymakers to advocate for additional epidemic preparedness funding in 2019 and beyond. We know it will save lives – and money – in the end, and decision-makers are starting to get the message.