Workshop on the challenges when setting up Public Health and Emergency Operation Centres


On 15 March, ECDC hosted a virtual workshop on the challenges and needs of Public Health Emergency Operations Centres (PHEOCs) and Emergency Plans. The aim of the event was to present the ECDC experience on the operation of an PHEOC and to share best practices and experiences with the EU Partner Countries.

The event brought together leading PHE national experts from several Neighbourhood Partner Countries, as well as 3 representatives of the World Health Organisation (WHO). It provided a good opportunity for participants to exchange relevant information and expertise on PHEOC-related experiences and challenges.

ECDC presented its PHE centre and plan, and participants discussed lessons learnt during the COVID-19 crisis, including how to enable national PHE managers, support trainings of PHE staff, and improve coordination functions.  Optimising the broader long-term PHE strategies, based on the observed impacts of the pandemic was also discussed.

Key areas of the training course

  • Definition, purposes, and characteristics of (PHEOC)s and emergency planning and response
  • Incident Management Systems
  • Exchange of information and expertise
  • PHEOCs cooperation at international level

Participants were introduced to the structure of cooperation between PHEOCs worldwide, providing them the chance to consolidate their knowledge on good practice and the importance of regional corporation. They were encouraged to identify and specify training needs in their own country, which ECDC could possibly address in collaboration with other international partners.

WHO representative, Ms Senait Fekadu, highlighted the Bi-regional Strategic Plan and the goal of improving public health management capability by ensuring operational PHEOCs in 90% of Member States of the African and Eastern Mediterranean countries by 2026.

Representatives from Armenia, Libya, Georgia, and Morocco presented their experiences with setting up PHEOCs at national and local levels, lessons learnt during COVID-19 and current capacity building needs. Better standard operation procedures for emergency plans and systems, flexibility of infrastructures, training capacities and access to emergency management tools were some of the needs highlighted by the participating countries.

The event was organised within the framework of the EU Initiative on Health Security project implemented by ECDC and funded by DG NEAR. The main goals of the initiative are to raise the level of preparedness and the capacity of response to Public Health Emergencies and to enhance regional cooperation.