Egypt has been experiencing repeated Avian Influenza outbreaks over the past years, an issue that has contributed significantly to compromising the health status of some of its communities.
To effectively respond to such situations and similar challenges, the need arose to improve its national and sub-national capacities and systems. To this end, GHD/EMPHNET joined forces with the Egypt Ministry of Health and Population to conduct a Rapid Response Teams (RRT) Training Workshop.
Held between April 9 and April 13, 2017 at the Air Defense House in Cairo, the workshop saw participation from 22 public health professionals. Coming from five governorates and central Egypt, these participants included; surveillance officers, doctors, veterinarians, pharmacists, laboratory personnel and other national public health selected technical staff who were nominated based on their current and planned national level involvement in the areas of outbreak detection, investigation and response.
The workshop sessions covered areas of outbreak early detection, proper investigation and rapid and optimal response. These topics were selected to provide participants with the skills they need to support country efforts in mitigating the burden of communicable diseases and the health impact of other potential events and disasters.
Discussions revolved around the effectiveness of national preparedness plans, the dynamics of the surveillance system in Egypt, early detection and response to outbreaks, the importance of fostering intersectoral coordination, infection control, epidemiological clues to deliberate epidemics, and the role of laboratories in outbreak investigations, biorisk management, risk assessment, and risk communication.
Moving from the technical to the behavioral attributes of rapid response, the workshop also placed specific emphasis on the effective standards of team work, and the steps to be followed in outbreak investigations, amongst other pressing issues.
To ensure that the content presented during the workshop is of relevance to the participants and the health needs of the communities they operate within, the sessions centered around an H5N1 case scenario. This scenario helped set the scene for questions, discussions, and activities that broadened the horizons of participants, enhanced their skill set, and enabled them to pose relevant questions that would elevate their scope of work. This practical approach to training enabled participants to engage in discussions that were insightful as they focused on the interaction of different components of the rapid response process. The diversity of the participants’ backgrounds helped enrich discussions held during the workshop, as each shared incite from his/her personal experience.
All in all, this training was conducted to respond to a pressing need to have a skilled rapid response team in Egypt. At the end of the workshop resolutions were made to enhance knowledge exchange for the benefit of the participants’ peers. It was, therefore, suggested that this training be considered as a training of trainers as well as a national RRT capacity building exercise. It was also suggested that this workshop be followed up by similar training sessions for provincial teams. Recommendations were also made to follow up these training efforts with the development and update of SOPs relevant to this topic, as well as the implementation of the globally recommended institutional system procedures and mechanisms related to this important area of work.