Strengthening Routine Immunization
Since 2015, GHD|EMPHNET has been working with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) toward strengthening routine immunization and sustaining polio eradication. GHD|EMPHNET worked with the FMoH to identify training needs of the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) staff and developed training customized to the country needs. GHD|EMPHNET also supported the development of the Public Health Empowerment Program – Surveillance for Polio Officers (PHEP-SPO), a program designed to train district-level polio officers in the skills they need to support the FMOH’s and state Ministries’ of Health in sustaining polio eradication, strengthening routine immunization, and contributing to other functions of the national health system. Four cohorts of PHEP-SPO were trained between 2017- 2019.
In 2018, GHD|EMPHNET supported Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance in strengthening the Health Sector Partners Forum in Sudan. This collaboration started with assessing the structure of the current Forum and its functionality. Based on this assessment, GHD|EMPHNET implemented a couple of capacity building activities aimed at strengthening coordination within the forum by (1) mapping the linkages between different coordination mechanisms and (2) proposing ways for strengthening them by improving the functionality and the monitoring performance of the coordination forum.
In 2019, GHD|EMPHNET collaborated with the FMOH in the launch of the Public Health Empowerment Program for Nutrition Officers (PHEP-Nutrition). This is a three-month program that targets nutrition officers working at different levels of health system in Sudan with the aim to build on the participants’ skills and knowledge towards improving their contribution to nutrition and the other maternal and child health interventions in the country. The program aims to have targeted nutrition officers support EPI/Polio activities and initiatives at the locality levels, particularly those associated with demand creation for immunization services and defaulters tracing.
In the same year, GHD|EMPHNET also supported FMOH to develop a national strategic plan for addressing immunization barriers in Sudan that was disseminated to all partners and concerned parties.
Also in 2019, GHD|EMPHNET, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the FMoH continue to collaborate to support the implementation of community-based surveillance in all states of Sudan. Supervised by the EPI, this is an intervention focuses on the training of EPI focal locality officers and community volunteers to support conducting community-based surveillance.
With support from GHD|EMPHNET, Sudan is also working towards empowering immunization workers with the skills needed to prepare and implement microplans to enhance routine immunization service delivery especially in hard-to-reach areas.
Building Field Epidemiology Capacities
In 2017, GHD|EMPHNET and the FMOH established the Sudan Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP), a two-year program is customized to fit the context of Sudan designed to enhance the capacities of the national health workforce in applied epidemiology and public health practice. The program aims to expand the number of health workers trained in surveillance, outbreak investigation, and emergency response towards addressing Sudan’s priority health areas. So far, the program graduated two cohorts. In 2022, the intermediate, one-year modality of the FETP was launched in Sudan with support from GHD|EMPHNET.
GHD|EMPHNET also supported Sudan FETPs in assisting rapid response teams in surveillance, investigation, and control of outbreaks of rift valley fever, malaria, chikungunya, and diphtheria in affected states.
Strengthening Emergency Preparedness and Response
In 2018, GHD|EMPHNET supported a meeting designed to develop an accountability framework for Health Emergency Operations as well as a workshop designed to develop state-level health emergency plans.
In the same year, GHD|EMPHNET also collaborated with the FMOH in enhancing the capacity of its rapid response teams (RRTs) through an RRT TOT workshop for health professionals representing all states and working in emergency response, communicable disease surveillance, environmental health, health promotion, primary health care, and epidemiology. In continuation of this effort, GHD|EMPHNET as of 2019 supported the FMOH to expand RRT TOT training to FETP residents and FMOH health emergency staff, followed by training at sub national levels with focus on strengthening cholera preparedness and response in high-risk states. These RRTs were mobilized to assist in emergency response, including the malaria and dengue fever outbreaks. During the pandemic, GHD|EMPHNET supported conducting COVID-19 RRT training for frontline medical staff at points of entry.
As part of project implemented in north Africa in response to COVID-19, GHD|EMPHNET in collaboration with African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) and Africa CDC implemented a community contact tracing strategy to contact tracing efforts and other surveillance functions in Sudan.
To provide data needed for informed decisions, GHD|EMPHNET supported the installation of a geographic information system at the FMOH. Since then, the system has been used in the current two public health crises: COVID-19 and the rainy season. The system is used to draw maps illustrating the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths as well as providing data on the number of houses, families, animals, and latrines that are totally or partially affected by the season rains and floods across the Sudan.