Possible epidemic: FG, WHO train Nigerians on emergency response




In order to rapidly respond to any outbreak of epidemic or pandemic in the country, the World Health Organisation (WHO) in collaboration with the federal government is training 350 Nigerians  to that effect.


The WHO representative, Walter Kazidi Mulombo who issued the ’ Talking Point on the Opening Ceremony of the Capacity Building, Learning and Training of the AVoHC SURGE Team (On-Boarding), said the training would equip the participants on response to possible epidemic or pandemic.


African Health Volunteers Corps (AVoHC) is a team of African volunteer medical and public health professionals established by the African Union, while Strengthening and Utilising Response Groups for Emergencies (SURGE) is a WHO initiative which is now called AVoHC-SURGE.


Tbe statement of WHO made available to Journalists in Abuja said the WR is to deliver the keynote address for the opening ceremony with the theme: “Capacity Building, Learning and Training to On-Board the AVoHC SURGE Team.


It said the key Messages of Preparation and early rapid execution of outbreak response strategies are critical in detecting, containing, and mitigating the spread of potentially dangerous infectious diseases, enhancing global health security (GHS) requires holistic and coordinated sustained national and sub-national actions to ensure a faster and more equitable response


The statement said In Nigeria, emergencies, disasters, and other crises increase in number and magnitude daily, affecting thousands of vulnerable and unprotected people.


According to the statement, “The situation is not promising to improve soon, as it noted that, ” as of 2nd November 2022, 18,093 suspected cholera cases have been reported in 256 LGAs of 31 States (CFR 2.6%). About a 41% decrease in the number of new suspected Cholera cases observed compared to the previous 2 weeks, where 3,990 suspected cases were recorded


“Currently, the flooding situation has become overwhelming with 3,219,780 affected persons, 1,427,370 displaced persons, 2,776 injured, 612 deaths, 305,407 houses damaged, 176,852 hectares of partially damaged farmlands and 392,399 completely flooded damaged farmlands in 35 States as of 24th October 2022


“The ability to deliver an early and effective response requires Government and institutions to be prepared collaboratively for new outbreaks; they must be ready to respond nationally, sub-nationally and locally before an attack becomes an epidemic or pandemic


,”Emergency workforce development is a critical domain that must be addressed to enhance Global Health Security and mitigate future Public Health Emergencies of International Concern (PHEIC)


“The response to public health emergencies requires an adequate pool of dedicated, qualified, and experienced professionals”, .



Continuing, the statement said, “the facilitators are subject matter experts from WHO, US-CDC, Africa CDC, WAHO, AFENET, and various partners and stakeholders


“The SURGE training uses a blended approach that includes various formats of face-to-face and virtual learning programmes

Objectives to train and prepare a workforce that can be called upon when needed – drawn not only from the WHO but mainly from the States, civil society, and volunteers”,.


It noted that the purpose of the SURGE is to provide surge support to countries that must rapidly mitigate crises through the SURGE members’ training.


“WHO aims to achieve workforce development to ensure the availability of trained human resources at the national and sub-national levels.


“The SURGE training will integrate and strengthen existing human resources for emergency response (PHEOCs, RRTs, EMTs) and further enhance the Governments’ leadership


“WHO is expected that at least 350 Nigerian Core Responders are trained and ready to deploy within the first 24 hours of an emergency


“Relevant ministries selected to train seventy-five (75) volunteers and government employees to serve as SURGE members and perform the functions laid out in the Incident Management System (IMS) for four (4) weeks on five (5) modules


“They are drawn from the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), Nigerian Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme (NFELTP), State Ministry of Health (SMoH), Federal Ministry of Environment (FMoEnv), Ministry of Defense (MoD), Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs Disaster Management and Social Development (FMHADMSD), National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIA), Nigerian Police Force and University of Abuja Teaching Hospital”, the statement noted.


It further maintained that the modules include Module 1: Public Health Emergency Operations Centre which are,

Update participants on the PHEOC framework, tools, standards and guidelines as per IHR (2005) Provide key concepts of emergency management using the IMS principles as the model for preparing for and responding to public health emergencies, describe the functions of PHEOC operations and management during all phases of the emergency management cycle for effective emergency response,    provide an overview of the WHO emergency response framework (ERF) discuss multi-sectoral coordination, communication, and planning approaches to plan for and respond to public health emergencies in an all-hazard approach, conduct tabletop exercises to test emergency management capabilities in the country”,.


The Module it stated includes, humanitarian overview and Introduction to Health Sector Coordination, build and strengthen the capacity of Health Cluster and Health Sector Coordinators (and Co-Coordinators) to lead and coordinate the planning, implementation and monitoring of more effective, efficient, timely and predictable evidence-based humanitarian health interventions in acute and protracted emergencies.


Others were to strengthen the capacity of Health Cluster Team Members at the national and sub-national levels to plan, implement and monitor more effective, efficient, timely and predictable evidence-based humanitarian health interventions in acute and protracted emergencies through strengthened planning, implementation and monitoring of efficient, timely and predictable evidence-based humanitarian health interventions in acute and protracted crises.


“Motivate and equip Health Cluster Partners to effectively and collaboratively strengthen the planning, implementation and monitoring of efficient, timely and predictable evidence-based humanitarian health interventions in acute and protracted emergencies”,.


On Module 3: Rapid Response Teams is to Provide National and Subnational Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) with the key knowledge and tools needed to detect and effectively respond to Public Health Emergencies early


“Provide RRTs with the knowledge and tools to efficiently manage epidemiological data in acute and protracted emergencies.


“Enable RRTs and other responders to apply standard Infection Prevention and Control measures at all times in public health emergencies.


“Enable RRTs to identify occupational health and safety hazards, assess key risks and outline measures for their management during fieldwork in the context of emergencies


“Strengthen the capacity to communicate risk and engage communities, using the appropriate principles and tools, in public health emergencies”,.


WHO statement noted that Module 4 which is Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies and PRSEAH

is “To provide participants with key concepts regarding Preventing and Responding to Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment and WHO’s mandate on PRSEAH.


“Understanding Gender-Based Violence, including its consequences, guiding principles and impact on Mental health.


“To update the participants on the WHO’s role regarding GBV and its emergency response.


“Equip participants with the relevant skills for the provision of first-line support and Clinical Management of Rape for survivors during emergency response”,.


On Module 5: External Communications, includes “Understanding the importance of external communications during emergencies


“Understanding the demands of media and how to engage with media


“Understanding the principles of misinformation on social media and how to respond


“Understanding the importance of photography during emergencies and how to take better photos”,.


The SURGE team profile according to WHO, comprises multiple disciplines under the IMS functions, which include experts in Laboratory, Epidemiologists, Anthropologists, Entomologists, Veterinarians, Data Managers, Field logistics and Coordination, Infection prevention and control (IPC), Risk communications, Community engagement, GBV, WASH, Nutrition, Finance and Administration, and Mental health and psychosocial support”,.


It said the key concerns wete weakened and overwhelmed public health systems and social safety nets, insecurity due to humanitarian crises, kidnapping, banditry, herders/farmers’ communal clashes, armed robbery and so on.


The Nigeria Health Emergency context, it said, is now more challenging, rapidly changing, and chaotic, and most times, response operations are in insecure environments.


WHO noted that inadequacies in emergency preparedness, slow and poor response decision-making, limited trained human resources and lack of agility in response teams which largely depends on WHO and Partners’ Efforts to Improve the Situation”,.


The statement informed that 2 of the 3 logistics hubs for the African Region are located outside the continent, limiting emergency supplies stockpiles available on the continent and exacerbating response time.


“WHO is known to create a workforce of excellence for health emergencies and are frontline for emergency preparedness and response that is ready for emergency management and operational skills to deliver coordinated, integrated, and equitable public health action


“WHO is committed to strengthening the capacity and having a workforce in Nigeria willing and capacitated to work in the increasingly challenging environment of health emergencies in a globalised, urbanised and connected world where people, vectors and goods are on the move, giving rise to and amplifying threats from a multitude of infectious hazards, natural disasters, armed conflicts and complex emergencies


“The SURGE training will complement better structures to enable national authorities to mobilise human resources and supplies once emergencies are declared quickly


“There is a need for better structures to quickly mobilise human resources and supplies at all all-levels once emergencies are declared, which COVID-19 has exposed and intensified*, the statement said.