The World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Livestock, Forestry and Fisheries, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Water and Irrigation and partners, trained healthcare workers to build the country’s capacity to plan, implement and conduct simulation exercises, including full-scale simulation exercise to improve preparedness and response to public health events.
The training aimed to enable the country to have a core team of experts that will regularly conduct simulation exercises to ensure the health system has all the required procedures, standard operating procedures (SOPs) and strategic plans that can be used to prepare for, timely detect, and respond to disease outbreaks and other health emergencies at each level of the health system
The impact of recurrent disease outbreaks and other public health emergencies on individuals and societies can be reduced by being well-prepared and engaging all relevant sectors.
“South Sudan’s Ebola preparedness and readiness structure were repurposed to fight COVID-19. The training on simulation exercises is important to enhance the country’s core capacities to be adequately prepared and operationally ready for future health emergencies,” said Dr Atem Nathan, Director General for Primary Health Care at the Ministry of Health. The past simulation exercises proved the country’s ability to timely detect and respond to many outbreaks the country has embraced in recent years and will overcome any future health threats.
It is crucial for countries to have the proper infrastructure and resources to quickly detect, assess, notify and respond to health events. WHO is committed to helping member states implement the International Health Regulations framework for global health security. As part of this effort, the WHO supports countries in developing the necessary capabilities to manage public health risks.
Full-scale simulation exercises focus on meeting the recommendations of the previous exercises to improve coordination and communication with State Task Forces and between Technical Working Groups, review SOPs, ensure adherence to the SOPs and conduct regular drills to improve the performance of their teams.
Also, one of the critical elements of preparedness is having a comprehensive national all-hazards preparedness plan that is regularly tested for improvement, sufficiently resourced, and effectively implemented.
“Simulation exercises are meant to validate and enhance preparedness and response plans, procedures and systems for all hazards and capabilities”, said Dr Fabian Ndenzako, WHO Representative a.i. for South Sudan.
A total of 44 participants drawn from 8 teams comprising epidemiologists, clinicians, risk communication experts, laboratory technicians and infection prevention and control experts were engaged in the training. The scenario developed for the exercise allowed the participants to be tested on all aspects. During the simulation, the participants identified gaps in the current SOPs and proposed recommendations for improving the current guidelines.
We acknowledge our donor, US Agency for International Development (USAID), for supporting the ongoing efforts to strengthen the country’s preparedness capacities and respond to health events and other emergencies.
Dr Aggrey Kaijuka Bategereza, Email: bategerezaa [at] who.int
Dr Kwuakuan Yealue, Email: yealuek [at] who.int