CDC Global Rapid Response Team Pilots Workshop for Senegal and Burkina FasoPosted on by
Participants to the Rapid Response Team Management workshop, Dakar, Senegal, August 7-11
The 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic clearly demonstrated the need for trained scientists who can deploy quickly to confront health threats and ensure global health security. While we often think about the emergency response itself, we typically don’t think about the work that happens behind the scenes to make sure experts are well prepared to respond when a public health threat arises.
Training helps rapid response
Public health rapid response teams (RRTs) are interdisciplinary teams of experts who can immediately deploy in an emergency. They are trained to respond efficiently and effectively in coordination with other response efforts.
RRTs can be a key asset within a country’s public health emergency response system; a well-managed RRT facilitates faster, smarter response to outbreaks and is a critical part of emergency preparedness. Solidly establishing and managing an RRT before an emergency happens will maximize the team’s impact when crisis strikes.
This is why, in early August 2017, representatives from the Senegal Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and other sectors from the Senegal government, Burkina Faso Ministry of Health, and CDC’s Global Rapid Response Team (GRRT) conducted a workshop on RRT Management in Dakar, Senegal. The workshop developed standardized processes and guidelines to prepare and train RRTs, rapidly mobilize RRT responders, and coordinate RRT response activities with activities in the EOC.
Part of an international commitment
This work helps meet the goals of the International Health Regulations (IHR), which require all countries to establish the capacity to respond effectively to infectious disease outbreaks. To achieve the IHR mandate, many member states are establishing RRTs for a more effective public health response. The Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), which aims to accelerate IHR implementation, includes targets for emergency workforce development and personnel deployment.
Through the completion of the World Health Organization (WHO) Joint External Evaluation (JEE) – which independently assesses a country’s preparedness and response capabilities in relation to the IHR – in November 2016, Senegal identified the establishment of RRTs as one of its priority actions to improve its systems. Through CDC GHSA support, Senegal has a functional EOC and, in response to the JEE recommendations, has developed three different types of RRTs: epidemic response; psychosocial support; and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear disaster response.
Burkina Faso, currently in an early stage of EOC and RRT development, joined the workshop in order to strengthen national RRT procedures and benefit from Senegal’s experience.
Results of the workshop
This workshop enabled participants to understand the processes of RRT development and management and to develop guidelines and procedures adapted to their country’s individual contexts, needs, and constraints. Topics included: the framework of emergency response in the country; RRT staffing and rostering; RRT member training and preparedness; RRT activation, pre-deployment, deployment and post deployment processes; reporting; and field coordination.
Feedback from the participants was positive, citing “very fruitful and rich exchanges,” “lots of lessons learned,”and “great exchanges of experiences between Senegal and Burkina Faso.” Thanks to the very active and committed participants, several deliverables such as guidelines and templates were created during the workshop.
This fall, CDC’s GRRT, in collaboration with the West Africa Health Organization (WAHO) and WHO Lyon, will support the Senegal EOC in further developing a country-specific training curriculum for RRT members. The aim is to train local RRT members on the management and procedures relevant to RRT deployments and to strengthen their basic technical skills to maximize the effectiveness of a response.
With the completion of this workshop, GRRT now has RRT management material and deliverables available in both French and English, which will be useful for other West African countries in strengthening RRT management with a standardized approach, contributing to better and more coordinated responses in the region.
CDC remains committed to improving the response capabilities of countries worldwide. Skill-building exercises like this RRT training ensure global health security by creating a more prepared world, ready to respond to whatever disease or emergency strikes next.