EAC Conducts Successful Rapid Response Simulation Exercise

In collaboration with Partner States and other technical partners, the EAC Secretariat successfully conducted a table-top simulation exercise (TTX) today in Nairobi, Kenya, testing the activation of the recently established regional rapidly deployable expert pool.

Established in 2020, the expert pool was formed based on lessons learned from the 2014/15 Ebola outbreak in West Africa and other infectious disease outbreaks in the EAC. It aims to ensure a timely regional response to disease outbreaks by utilizing regional experts.

The primary objective of the TTX was to identify strengths and areas for improvement in collaboration and coordination at national, regional, and continental levels during an outbreak scenario. Additionally, the exercise aimed to develop a roadmap, including recommendations for integrating the EAC rapidly deployable expert pool and the AVoHC-SURGE initiative, to facilitate joint planning, deployments, and capacity development.

A TTX is a facilitated discussion in a low-stress environment where participants discuss their roles during an emergency and practice, evaluate, and identify areas for improvement in their responses to a particular scenario.

The simulation exercise was part of a three-day workshop, which began with joint training by the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO AFRO).

This training aimed to strengthen capacities and knowledge among Partner States and EAC experts regarding regional and continental guidelines and mechanisms for rapid response, focusing on the African Health Volunteers Corps and Strengthening and Utilizing Response Groups for Emergencies (AVoHC-SURGE) initiative.

During the closing ceremony of the training, Dr. Eric Nzeyimana, Principal Health Officer at the EAC, speaking on behalf of the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Infrastructure, Productive, Social, and Political sectors, Hon. Andrea Ariik, emphasized that the EAC simulation exercise, incorporating lessons learned and recommendations, positions the region to be better prepared for future outbreaks of epidemics and pandemics.

Dr. Radjabu Bigirimana, AVoHC Lead at Africa CDC, highlighted the mutual benefits of close collaboration between the EAC Secretariat and Africa CDC through the AVoHC-SURGE initiative.

“A collaboration framework is under development that will allow us to join forces in outbreak response through joint rostering of experts, capacity building, and deployments within the EAC and across the continent.”

Dr. Arisekola Ademola Jinadu, Technical Officer for the IHR Monitoring and Evaluation Framework, reminded participants of the importance of following up on the outcomes and recommendations of the simulation exercise at all levels to inform ongoing preparedness and response efforts.

The training and TTX brought together more than 50 experts from the health, environment, and livestock sectors responsible for emergency preparedness and response in the EAC Partner States, as well as representatives from the EAC Secretariat, WHO AFRO, Africa CDC, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, and the German Epidemic Preparedness Team (SEEG). Together, they simulated a response to a cross-border Ebola Virus outbreak in the EAC region.

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