The World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with Uganda’s Ministry of Health, has commenced a five-day training for 29 emergency responders from five African countries. The training scheduled for 15th to 19th August 2022 at the Commonwealth Resort Hotel Munyonyo is intended to build regional capacity to respond to the unpredictable nature of outbreaks of Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers in the region.
Funded by WHO, participants are from Uganda, Zambia, South Sudan, Rwanda, and Tanzania and they will be trained through the newly updated manual on the management of Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers, which includes the use of approved drugs.
“It is essential that health workers are well informed on the revised management of viral hemorrhagic fevers (VHF) for future epidemics, to save lives and appropriately reduce transmission through adequate and appropriate infection control,” said Dr Paska Apiyo, Consultant Physician at the Gulu Regional Referral Hospital.
In his opening remarks, The Incident Manager for the WHO Country Office in Uganda, Dr Charles Njuguna said that “effective preparedness for unpredictable outbreaks of viral hemorrhagic fevers is crucial for a rapid response to these diseases, which have caused catastrophic loss of life and other resources in the region.”
One of the recent viral hemorrhagic fevers in the region was the Ebola outbreak declared in the Democratic Republic of Congo on April 23, 2022, which ended three months later with four confirmed cases and one probable case, all of whom died.
Operational preparedness for imminent risk is part of the broader context of emergency preparedness and the need for countries to build longer-term capacity to manage public health events, including viral hemorrhagic fevers (VHFs).
The Member States, with support from WHO and its partners, are seeking to invest more in long-term emergency preparedness capacity so that they are better prepared to manage future epidemics and other public health emergencies. Along with case management preparedness, there is a need to protect frontline health workers in the most at-risk districts in the country through vaccination against Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), an initiative that WHO is also pursuing.
“Proactive operational preparedness pays off by reducing the public health impact of emergencies, reducing the cost of response and recovery, and serves as a long-term investment in the health system’s capacity to manage health emergencies as per the International Health Regulations 2005,” Dr. Charles stressed.
In addition, the establishment of temporary and/or permanent treatment centers is essential to meet the highly required safety criteria for health care workers and the community.
The Republic of Uganda, which has long been one of the epicenters of the Ebola epidemic, is well positioned, given its existing structures for Ebola and other viral hemorrhagic fevers, to provide training for health care professionals.
This training is part of WHO’s existing support to countries to prevent and combat endemic diseases and health emergencies such as yellow fever, malaria, monkeypox, and disasters including floods, famine, and drought.