Federal Ministry of Health in Sudan Graduates First Cohort of the Public Health Empowerment Program – Surveillance for Polio Officers (PHEP-SPO)
Between July and October 2017, the Sudan Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), in collaboration with GHD/EMPHNET, implemented the Public Health Empowerment Program – Surveillance for Polio Officers (PHEP-SPO). This program is designed to train district-level polio officers in the skills they need to support the FMoH’s and state Ministries’ of Health (MoHs) in sustaining polio eradication, strengthening routine immunization, and contributing to other functions of the national health system.
Expanding the number of health workers trained in surveillance, outbreak investigation, and emergency response can help address Sudan’s priority health areas, especially in light of the fact that the country is surrounded by several types of emergencies that have significant health consequences, including outbreaks of VPDs and other diseases.
Therefore, the PHEP-SPO is designed as a three-month training program that strengthens and expands the capacities of polio officers in the areas of surveillance, outbreak investigation and response, and public health interventions management. As an in-service training program, the PHEP-SPO provides both didactic and mentor-supervised field training to its residents while they are still actively engaged in their employment.
The first workshop of the PHEP-SPO was conducted from July 30 until August 3, 2017. It addressed topics relevant to public health surveillance with a focus on the surveillance system of the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI). This workshop was then followed by four weeks of fieldwork, during which residents collected, interpreted, and analyzed surveillance data obtained from the districts where they are working. The residents then conducted data quality audits and wrote weekly surveillance as well as surveillance data analysis reports.
Conducted from September 10 until September 21, 2017, the second workshop addressed two other areas namely: outbreak investigations as well as leadership and management. In the area of outbreak investigations, case studies about measles and other relevant VPDs were discussed. This topic was highlighted because measles is one of the priority problems affecting Sudan. Regarding leadership and management, residents were trained to conduct in-depth problem analysis, prioritize interventions and then develop plans for managing these interventions.
This workshop was followed by five weeks of fieldwork where participants were assigned projects covering areas discussed. During this period, they collected, interpreted, and analyzed surveillance data obtained from the surveillance system in the district where they are working. They then wrote outbreak investigation reports, analyzed surveillance quality problems, reviewed departments’ annual plan, and prioritized department/units’ problems related to surveillance. To achieve this outcome, the participants also conducted problem analysis, and developed a proposal to solve/improve one of the problems.
In the last workshop, conducted from October 29 to November 5, 2017, the residents presented their field projects and were evaluated on them.
The graduation ceremony of the first cohort took place on October 30. A total of 30 EPI officers were graduated. This ceremony was attended by the Undersecretary of the FMoH Dr. Isam Mohammed Abdalla and and GHD/EMPHNET Executive Director Dr. Mohannad Al-Nsour.