The Caribbean successfully conducts Ebola simulation exercise

The Caribbean successfully conducts Ebola simulation exercise

 

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, 16 July, 2015.  As part of preparation efforts to prevent and manage potential Ebola cases, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), in collaboration with the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) hosted an Ebola simulation exercise, Exercise Hummingbird.

This table top exercise took place from 13 – 14 July, within CARPHA Member States.  Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) predominantly acted as the national focal point for the exercise, but received support from relevant stakeholders within their countries.

The exercise was organised as part of ongoing national and regional capacity building activities and simulated the introduction of a case of Ebola virus disease (EVD) into each of the participating countries.  During the course of the exercise different elements of the country's EVD response plans were tested, including the public health systems preparedness for managing potential contacts, coordinating with partners in the preparedness and response system, and preparing communication materials.

Dr Babatunde Olowokure, Director of Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control, at CARPHA, said "While there are no suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola in the Caribbean, the exercise was very useful, and we now know that if there was to be an imported Ebola case in the region, our public health systems are ready to respond in a way that is rational and effective.” He also said that “The exercise has allowed Member States to evaluate the processes and procedures that they currently have in place to contain a potential travel-related EVD case, an important step to ensure regional, and global health security.”

While the threat posed by the current EVD situation in West Africa has declined significantly, the preparations made for EVD response, and the benefits to be derived from an exercise testing these preparations, can only serve to put Caribbean countries on a better footing for responding to health security threats which may confront the Region in the future.

The purpose of the exercise, which was funded by the World Bank, was to challenge the systems in place, and to prepare Member States for a high-risk but low-frequency public health incident.  A comprehensive post-exercise evaluation will allow Member States to implement further improvements to their EVD preparedness plans. 

This is the first of similar exercises on Ebola and other public health threats, which will be conducted annually.


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