8th April 2020
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Ministry of health conducts Ebola outbreak preparedness exercise

Author: Koang Pal Chang | Published: Friday, August 16, 2019

During the SIMEX - health workers evaucate suspected Ebola patient at Juba International Airport. CREDIT: WHO

The ministry of health has conducted simulation exercise on the outbreak of Ebola on Wednesday in Juba, Nimule, and Yei, said a statement by the World Health Organization.

The simulation exercise was part of the country’s preparedness efforts to prevent, as well as to manage any possible suspected cases of Ebola in the country. South Sudan has not reported any Ebola case.

In a statement published on the WHO website state that, the objective was to test and validate capabilities for early detection, rapid response, and effective coordination at national, state and community levels, in view of the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The SIMIX has given us a lot of information including our strengths and gaps in the preparedness and response activities. Accordingly, we will rectify gaps early on, said Dr. Pinyi Nyimol Mawien, Director General for Preventive Health Services.

The SIMEX involved over 190 participants from Ministry of Health, WHO, and partners and was designed to test the implementation level of the International Health Regulations (2005) protocols for the designated two points of entry, Juba and Nimule.

“The simulation exercise is vital to evaluate and enhance operational capacities in emergency management”, said Dr. Olushayo Olu, WHO Representative for South Sudan.

“Several drills and functional exercises have been conducted in South Sudan leading up to this full-scale simulation.”

The trainers observed participants who were confronted with a hypothetical scenario of multiple suspected cases of Ebola virus disease.

Throughout the SIMEX, trainers tested the administered preparedness and operational readiness including donning and doffing of personal protective equipment (PPE); preparation of chlorine solution; collection and handling of blood samples (pre-analytic phase).

The WHO state that the test includes terminal disinfection and waste management at the healthcare center; patient referral, vehicle disinfection; safe and dignified burials.

The exercise includes data management, analysis and interpretation; reporting; contact identification, contact listing; contact investigation, and contact follow-up.

It also tested ring vaccination, screening of travelers at a designated PoE and testing the linkages and communication with the EVD hotline and the patient transfer using EVD ambulances to the Isolation Facilities to respond to the scenario of a potential EVD outbreak in South Sudan.

Following the conclusion of the SIMEX, trainers and participants reviewed and evaluated the performance of all involved actors in order to maximize timely, effective, and coordinated responses to an EVD outbreak.

The functions exercise included overall coordination and communication at national and sub-national levels and the linkages between the two levels; surveillance, and reporting of a public health event.

It also tested activation of the public health emergency operations centre (PHEOC), contact tracing; rapid response team capacity; ambulance services; case management at healthcare centres; case management at Ebola treatment centre (ETC); infection prevention and control.

The exercise also includes the level of disinfection and waste management; risk communications; engagement of communities; finance and administration; operations support and logistics; the movement of emergency supplies and equipment, exit screening, PHEOC ability to coordinate the multiple entities, the collaboration of the various institutions among others.

According to the statement, the findings of the exercise will be used to validate the existing response mechanisms and identify areas within the preparedness plans and standard operating procedures that may require strengthening.

The Ministry of Health, the United Nations and partners have been working collectively on Ebola prevention and preparedness since the onset of the outbreak in DRC and will continue to strengthen measures.

The one-day simulation exercise was organized by the Ministry of Health, with support from the WHO, the United States’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, International Medical Corps, and the Consortium (Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA), Concern and GOAL International) and other partners.

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