Since December 2017, the Iraq Ministry of Health (MoH) has conducted two training workshops on Rapid Response Teams (RRTs). Participants were fifty health professionals working in emergency response. Thirty of them came from four newly retaken provinces: Al Anbar, Diyala, Ninawa, and Salah al-Dine. One national Training of Trainers (ToT) targeted twenty participants from nineteen Iraqi provinces to roll out the RRT training to provincial level in the remaining provinces of Iraq.
More recently, the MoH, supported by GHD/EMPHNET, conducted the third planned RRT training workshop. The workshop targeted public health professionals working at the governorate level. Thirty-eight staff members working in preventive health departments and primary health care participated in these sessions. They represented core members of the RRTs within six priority provinces, including Najaf, Basrah, Babylon, Kerbala, Baghdad (Karkh and Resafa) and concerned staff from the central MoH directorates.
The training took place in Baghdad, Iraq between 12-16 August 2018. In addition to senior officers from the central directorate of Public Health, and the Central Public Health Laboratory, two previously trained public health staff as well as GHD/EMPHNET staff members facilitated the workshop’s sessions.
The training was designed to reinforce the capacity and skills of multidisciplinary Rapid Response Teams (RRT) in their respective locations. Its sessions focused on the peripheral levels and their ability to effectively detect and respond to public health events. Focusing on epidemic emergencies, the sessions also covered content relevant to the region and the public health sector in Iraq.
The facilitators briefed the participants on the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005), the national public health emergency preparedness and response plan, risk management as well as the national human and animal health surveillance systems. Discussions were also made on the importance of functioning mechanisms, procedures, steps, and components of rapid response networks.
The workshop agenda included a five-day long group exercise which simulated a scenario of an H5N1 outbreak. In this exercise, participants went through the steps of an outbreak investigation that is conducted by a local multi-disciplinary rapid response team and shared their previous experience. Furthermore, the workshop also featured a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) demonstration.