By Oliver Nweke
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed that it has trained about 350 Nigerian core responders who would be deployed within the first 24 hours of an emergency.
The project is tagged AVoHC SURGE Team, and boarded through the Strengthening and Utilising Response Groups for Emergencies (SURGE) , a WHO initiative and the African Health Volunteers Corps (AVoHC) , a team of African volunteer medical and public health professionals established by the African Union.
The WHO Nigeria Representative, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo in his comments noted that the preparation and early rapid execution of outbreak response strategies are critical in detecting, containing, and mitigating the spread of potentially dangerous infectious diseases.
He said the SURGE training is geared towards preparing a workforce that can be called upon when needed – drawn not only from the WHO but mainly from the States, civil society, and volunteers
He said , “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.”
He said in Nigeria, emergencies, disasters, and other crises increase in number and magnitude daily, affecting thousands of vulnerable and unprotected people. The situation is not promising to improve soon
According to him as of 2nd November 2022, 18,093 suspected cholera cases have been reported in 256 LGAs of 31 States (CFR 2.6%), and currently, the flooding situation has become overwhelming with 3,219,780 affected persons, 1,427,370 displaced persons, 2,776 injured, 612 deaths.
“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,” he said.
He said 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)
Dr Mulombo said relevant ministries were selected to train 75 volunteers and government employees to serve as SURGE members and perform the functions laid out in the Incident Management System (IMS) for four weeks on five modules.
They were 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), and Nigerian Police Force and University of Abuja Teaching Hospital.
Minister of State for Health, Dr Joseph Ekumankama said the training would have great impact on Nigeria’s emergency response .
He said with the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and epidemics being recorded globally and within the African region, Nigeria needs to be prepared for future outbreaks through an effective workforce to able to address them effectively.