Update COVID-19 16 April 2021

16 April 2021 — Sixty-eight (68) new COVID-19 cases were identified out of 6014 samples tested today. This brings the cumulative number of confirmed cases twenty-three thousand, eight hundred and twelve (23812). To date, twenty-two thousand, and fifteen (22015) patients have recovered, including two hundred and ten (210) in the past 24 hours. The number of active cases is one thousand, four hundred, and seventy-five (1475) and three hundred and twenty-two (322) deaths. 

The new cases are in Nyamagabe (15), Kigali City (10), Nyanza (8), Nyaruguru (6), Gicumbi (5), Karongi (3), Gisagara (3), Ngoma (3), Muhanga (3), Ruhango (3), Rubavu (2), Ngororero (2), Rwamagana (2), Kayonza (2), and Huye(1); heightened vigilance is required everywhere.

The COVID-19 prevention measures announced by the Government of Rwanda must continue to be rigorously observed, especially frequent hand-washing and physical distancing. In addition, face masks must be worn in public and multi-family compounds.
Withholding information related to contact tracing or COVID-19 symptoms, jeopardises public safety and will be punished in accordance with applicable laws. 

The key symptoms of coronavirus are dry cough, shortness of breath, and fever. Automated screening is available by dialing *114#. Symptoms can also be reported to a medical professional, or as follows:  
Phone: 114 (toll-free);  
Whatsapp message to:  +250788202080; 
E mail: callcenter [at] rbc.gov.rw.    

Let’s continue to work together to defeat this pandemic. 

For more information: 

Click on Rwanda Biomedical Centre Website: https://www.rbc.gov.rw  

Click on WHO African Region COVID-19 Dashboard: https://arcg.is/XvuSX
Click on WHO website to view the Corona Virus Situation Dashboard with updated number of cases globally and country by country https://covid19.who.int/  

WHO

Zambia launches the COVID-19 vaccination

The Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Jonas Chanda officially launched the COVID-19 vaccination on 14 April 2021 at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka. Zambia received the first consignment of 228,000 doses of the vaccine from the COVAX facility, a global Initiative representing a partnership between the World Health Organization (WHO), Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) working on the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

The voluntary COVID-19 vaccination exercise in the country is targeting a total of 8.4 million people above the age of 18 years. The National COVID -19 Vaccine Deployment Plan has prioritised frontline health workers who are essential in sustaining the COVID-19 response, those most essential in maintaining core societal functions (teachers, immigration, police, religious and traditional leaders), people at greatest risk of severe COVID-19 disease (those with other underlying diseases and those aged above 65 years) and the population in congregate settings.

In his launch statement, the Minister thanked the donors who are supporting the COVAX. He said that COVID-19 had devastating health, social and economic consequences and therefore all efforts are needed to control it. He emphasised that the Zambian government was clear and consistent in the COVID-19 response and that the COVID-19 vaccine was an additional tool to protect the population. The minister encouraged those eligible to accept the vaccination while emphasising that government had considered the safety and efficacy of the vaccine before making the decision to use it in the country. He was vaccinated in view full of the media as a way of leading by example.

The United Stated Charge d’Affaires, at the US Embassy, David Young, stated that the US had provided 2 billion Dollars to the Vaccine Alliance to support the COVAX. He said that COVID vaccination was bringing a new hope and marking the beginning of the end of COVID-19 and called for solidarity in the fight. He used this opportunity to announce a new initiative called “One world protected” which had a target of raising 2 billion dollars support for the COVAX.

The United Nations Resident Coordinator, Dr. Coumba Mar Gadio, congratulated the government for forging a multisectoral response to the COVID-19 pandemic and reiterated the continued support of the United Nations in Zambia.

The Swedish Ambassador Anna Maj Hultgård also congratulated the Government of the Republic of Zambia for achieving an important milestone in the response to COVID-19. She took the opportunity of the launch of the vaccine in Zambia to announce that the Swedish Government was allocating a total of 259 million United States Dollars to support the COVAX.

WHO and UNICEF are working in collaboration with other partners to support the government in implementing the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

Present at this event were senior government officials, ambassadors, representatives of United Nations Agencies, private sector, civil society, traditional leaders, health workers and the media.

WHO

Update COVID-19 15 April 2021

15 April 2021 — Seventy-two (72) new COVID-19 cases were identified out of 6289 samples tested today. This brings the cumulative number of confirmed cases twenty-three thousand, seven hundred and forty-four (23744). To date, twenty-one thousand, eight hundred, and eighty-five (21805) patients have recovered, including two hundred and eleven (211) in the past 24 hours. The number of active cases is one thousand, six hundred, and eighteen (1618) and three hundred and twenty-one (321) deaths. 

The new cases are in Nyamagabe (18), Nyaruguru (8), Huye (8), Nyanza (7), Rwamagana (6), Kigali City (5), Karongi (4), Gakenke (3), Muhanga (3), Musanze (2), Ngororeo (2), Rubavu (2), Ruhango (2), Gatsibo (1), and Rusizi (1); heightened vigilance is required everywhere.

The COVID-19 prevention measures announced by the Government of Rwanda must continue to be rigorously observed, especially frequent hand-washing and physical distancing. In addition, face masks must be worn in public and multi-family compounds.
Withholding information related to contact tracing or COVID-19 symptoms, jeopardises public safety and will be punished in accordance with applicable laws. 

The key symptoms of coronavirus are dry cough, shortness of breath, and fever. Automated screening is available by dialing *114#. Symptoms can also be reported to a medical professional, or as follows:  
Phone: 114 (toll-free);  
Whatsapp message to:  +250788202080; 
E mail: callcenter [at] rbc.gov.rw.    

Let’s continue to work together to defeat this pandemic. 

For more information: 

Click on Rwanda Biomedical Centre Website: https://www.rbc.gov.rw  

Click on WHO African Region COVID-19 Dashboard: https://arcg.is/XvuSX
Click on WHO website to view the Corona Virus Situation Dashboard with updated number of cases globally and country by country https://covid19.who.int/  

WHO

Community engagement in Cross River State boosts acceptance of COVID-19 vaccine 

Abuja, 15 April, 2021 – “I received the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine because I was opportune to get the right information to make a sound decision. I got the right information from the social mobilization and community campaign conducted by the Cross River State Primary Health Care Development Agency and the World Health Organization”, says Emmanuel Nthor, a lecturer at the College of Health Technology, Calabar, Cross River State. 

Mr Nthor said,” I was excited when the team from government and WHO came around to address my concerns. Making the right decision to receive the vaccine had been hazy due to misinformation, rumors and scare about the makeup and effectiveness of the vaccine in the public. We don’t know what to believe and not to, especially on the safety of the vaccine. 
“But now I know better, and have made a best choice, he added. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, health experts, community leaders and influencers have been sensitizing Nigerians on best practices for preventing the spread of COVID-19, including handwashing, physical distancing ad mask wearing. Now, with the access to vaccines rapidly expanding, Cross River State Primary Health Care Development Agency (CRSPHCDA) and WHO launched a follow-up campaign to provide information about the safety of the vaccine. 

On 02 March 2021, Nigeria received nearly 4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses and subsequently distributed to States.  Cross River State took delivery of 53,840 doses Oxford/AstraZeneca via the COVAX Facility. COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), working in partnership with UNICEF, the World Bank, civil society organizations, manufacturers, and others. COVAX is part of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. 

Already, the state had begun the vaccination drive and have been recording an impressive turnout among health workers, frontline workers and strategic leaders who had been presenting themselves for vaccination. As at 12  April 2021, over 27,000 health and front-line workers have been vaccinated in the State.

Addressing vaccine hesitancy 
Cross River state was one of a few states in Nigeria that lagged in adapting the National   Covid-19 response plan. Presently, there are still mixed feeling of both relieve for the vaccine intervention as well as doubts and hesitancy, related to the timeframe of development and efficacy of the vaccine, its safety, and socio-cultural acceptability issues. This was also seen even amongst health workers.

To address vaccine hesitancy in Cross River, the state government with support from WHO embarked on effective social mobilization and community engagements across the state to educate the people about vaccine safety and efficacy. 

At one of the sensitization meeting, Mrs. Chisom Emeka, WHO Cross River acting State Coordinator highlighted that vaccines are a critical new tool in the battle against COVID-19; therefore, a step in the right direction. According to her, these vaccines have undergone rigorous regulatory processes at global and country level, and have been deemed safe and effective. 

Some of the institutions engaged included the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, General Hospital Calabar, NNRH, Nigeria Navy Command, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Police, Department of Security Service, NIS, Margaret Ekpo International Airport, Nigerian Port Authority, Fire Service, Nigerian Prison Services, Export Processing Zone, College of  Midwifery, College of Nursing, College of Health Technology, Civil Service Commission, Christian Association of Nigeria, and Obong of Calabar, whose influence also mobilized the population among others. 

Also, various professional groups were engaged, including the Nigerian Medical Association, Medical Advisory Committee, Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria, National Association of Community Health Practitioners of were not left out in the sensitization activities as they played huge roles in mobilizing healthcare workers.

As at 12 April 2021, a total of 385 COVID19 cases and 18 deaths among confirmed cases had been reported in Cross River State. To ensure a successful roll out of COVID19 vaccines in the state, CRSPHCDA led by the DG, Dr. Janet Ekpenyong and WHO prioritized engagement of targeted eligible persons (Health Care Workers, frontline workers and strategic leaders) for phase 1, providing them with the right information for informed decision.

WHO continued to provide technical support to the GoN in addressing misinformation and use of data for decision making as preparations are underway for the subsequent phases of the vaccine roll out.


Technical Contact:
Dr Jean Baptiste, Anne Eudes. Email: jeana [at] who.int; Tel: +234 813 173 628
Dr Terna Nomhwange Email: nomhwanget [at] who.int; Tel +234 813 173 6264
 

WHO

Update COVID-19 14 April 2021

14 April 2021 — Sixty-nine (69) new COVID-19 cases were identified out of 6312 samples tested today. This brings the cumulative number of confirmed cases twenty-three thousand, six hundred and seventy-two (23672). To date, twenty-one thousand, five hundred, and ninety-four (21594) patients have recovered, including one hundred and ninety-nine (199) in the past 24 hours. The number of active cases is one thousand, seven hundred, and sixty-one (1761) and three hundred and seventeen (317) deaths. 

The new cases are in Nyaruguru (13), Kigali City (12), Muhanga (8), Kirehe (7), Nyanza (6), Burera (6), Gicumbi(5), Ruhango (5), Nyamagabe (4), Gisagara (2), and Bugesera (1); heightened vigilance is required everywhere.

The COVID-19 prevention measures announced by the Government of Rwanda must continue to be rigorously observed, especially frequent hand-washing and physical distancing. In addition, face masks must be worn in public and multi-family compounds.
Withholding information related to contact tracing or COVID-19 symptoms, jeopardises public safety and will be punished in accordance with applicable laws. 

The key symptoms of coronavirus are dry cough, shortness of breath, and fever. Automated screening is available by dialing *114#. Symptoms can also be reported to a medical professional, or as follows:  
Phone: 114 (toll-free);  
Whatsapp message to:  +250788202080; 
E mail: callcenter [at] rbc.gov.rw.    

Let’s continue to work together to defeat this pandemic. 

For more information: 

Click on Rwanda Biomedical Centre Website: https://www.rbc.gov.rw  

Click on WHO African Region COVID-19 Dashboard: https://arcg.is/XvuSX
Click on WHO website to view the Corona Virus Situation Dashboard with updated number of cases globally and country by country https://covid19.who.int/  

WHO

Nigeria launches the implementation of Malaria eradication fund 

Abuja, 15 April, 2021 – On the 14 April 2021, Nigeria launched the implementation the Global Fund 2021-2023 Malaria grant towards support to the elimination of the disease and for building resilient sustainable system for health across the country. 

At a short physical and virtual ceremony, in Abuja, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehnaire, said the grant will accelerate Nigeria’s progress towards reducing the malaria burden in the country as well as strengthening the health system. The launching is a follow up of the Presidential launch of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM) grant to Nigeria and marks the beginning of the implementation of the Global Fund 2021-2023 malaria grant in Nigeria.

The. Minister said although Nigeria in the past few years recorded reduction in malaria burden and deaths, there is still much work to do to achieve a zero-burden status as the country still has a high case burden. 

“Malaria remains a public health challenge. While Nigeria witnessed largest reduction in malaria death in 2019 …we must be mindful of other challenges posed by COVID-19 and work to mitigate the impact. We appreciate all the partners that have been working with us to achieving the desired goal.”    

He also assured that government would fulfil all grant conditions, including the counterpart financing. 
In a similar vein, Mark Edington, the Divisional Head of Grant Management of Global Funds, speaking via Zoom, commended Nigeria for kick-starting the implementation of the malaria grant implementation despite the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He said that in recognition of the need for additional investment,  the Global Funds is ready to provide more funds to continue supporting response against the pandemic, and would shortly use the US government’s contribution of  $3.5 billion to offer new funds to Nigeria to support PPE, community support, risk communication and logistics. “We also encourage the malaria programme to include PPE and other adaptions needed to ensure that the malaria campaigns are implemented on time despite COVID-19. We should put risk mitigation in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19, he added. 

In the goodwill message, the World Health Organization Country Representative to Nigeria (WR) Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo appreciated the Minister for organizing the important event to launch the Malaria specific component of the Global Fund grant in Nigeria.

The WR, assured Nigeria of WHO’s unalloyed commitment to continuing partnership with Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), and all other partners through provision of technical support and guidance to implement the activities necessary to meet the National goals.
The WR, represented  Dr Anne Eudes Jean Baptiste of WHO said,  though Nigeria has made remarkable progress in malaria control, with decline in prevalence from 42% in 2010 to 23% in 2018, the country should not rest on its oars, as the World Malaria Report 2020 estimated that Nigeria alone accounts for 27% (61million cases) of malaria cases, and ranks highest in the list of contributors to the global burden of disease.

“As a strategic partner of the FMOH and one of The Global Fund’s collaborative global partners, based on complementary capabilities, mandates and resources to support countries end AIDS, end TB and eliminate malaria while strengthening country health systems resilience, WHO would like to encourage the Government of Nigeria to ensure that activities under this grant are implemented within planned periods and with greatest attention to quality of care”. 

Other organizations represented at the launch include the US President’s Malaria Initiative, DfID, RBM partnership, and all the GF grant implementing agencies.

To date, the GFATM has invested more than US$2.6 billion in Nigeria. The investments have helped expand health services across the country, supporting more than 1.5 million people with lifesaving HIV treatment and treating 138,500 people with TB in 2020 alone.

Between 2017 and 2020, the investments also contributed to the distribution of more than 100 million mosquito nets to protect people from malaria, while building resilient and sustainable systems for health.


Technical Contacts:

Dr Dr Jean Baptiste, Anne Eudes. Email: jeana [at] who.int; Tel: +234 813 173 6281

Dr Lynda Ozor;  Email: ozorl [at] who.int; Tel: +234 803 402 0832

WHO

Bolstering vigilance as Africa rolls out COVID-19 vaccines

Brazzaville – More than 13.6 million – including 12 million AstraZeneca – vaccine doses have been administered in Africa, with most of the adverse events reports following vaccination involving only mild to moderate side effects. There have been no cases of blood coagulation disorders reported following vaccination. 

Monitoring vaccine safety is critical to COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The World Health Organization (WHO)-led African Vaccine Regulatory Forum (AVAREF) is supporting African countries to ramp up regulatory capacity and oversight, which includes authorization and inspection of clinical trials, and approval of vaccines and other medical products. The continent has established strong regulatory agencies. Regulators from Ethiopia, Ghana, South Africa and Tanzania participated in WHO global assessments for the three COVID-19 vaccines which have so far received Emergency Use Listing.

“To significantly slow down COVID-19 we must avert serious illness, hospitalization and death. Every vaccine shot given moves us a step closer to ending this pandemic,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “But this historic endeavour is not risk-free. African countries have put in place stringent regulations and are monitoring for side effects and any severe adverse events following vaccination. WHO is working closely with countries to manage potential risks.”

There have been recent reports of rare blood clots among a few recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine in several European countries and Johnson & Johnson vaccines in the United States of America. The WHO Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety is monitoring the reports on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. On AstraZeneca, the committee’s review found that a causal relationship between the vaccine and the occurrence of blood clots with low platelets is plausible but not confirmed.

To date, more than 200 million people have received AstraZeneca vaccines around the world and cases of blood clots and low platelets are extremely low – fewer than 200 cases have been reported. COVID-19 on the other hand has claimed nearly 3 million lives worldwide. While the vaccine reviews continue, WHO considers – based on available data – that the benefits of receiving AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccine greatly outweigh the risks.

In Africa, AstraZeneca vaccine doses have been delivered to 36 countries through the COVAX Facility – a vaccine-procurement platform co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and WHO in partnership with UNICEF.

A total of 45 African countries have started COVID-19 vaccination campaigns. Over two-thirds of the administered doses have been given in 10 countries where supplies are running low or are depleted.

“COVID-19 vaccine access remains starkly unequal across the world. In high-income countries, one in four people on average has received a COVID-19 vaccine compared with just one in 500 in lower-income countries, which includes many African countries,” said Dr Moeti.

With limited supplies and delays in vaccine shipment, it is important for Africa to develop its own vaccine manufacturing capacity. The continent is home to 16% of the world’s population but produces 0.1% of vaccines. African countries that largely rely on importation are particularly vulnerable to delays in accessing essential health products during the pandemic.

Africa has now recorded over 4.3 million COVID-19 cases. In the past 28 days, new cases rose by 50% or higher in 13 countries including Angola, Central African Republic, Ethiopia and Kenya. Twenty-nine countries, including Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa, reported a decrease in new cases. Overall, Africa has seen a downward trend in cases over the past month.

The WHO Regional Office for Africa held a virtual press conference today facilitated by APO Group during which Dr Richard Mihigo, the Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme Coordinator, WHO Regional Office for Africa, briefed on vaccine rollout in Africa. He was joined by Dr Boitumelo Semete, CEO, South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, Professor Oyewale Tomori, Emeritus President and Professor of Virology, Redeemer’s University, Ede, Nigeria. Also on hand to answer questions were Dr Thierno Balde, Team Lead, Operational Partnerships, WHO Regional Office for Africa, and Dr Mory Keita, Technical Officer, WHO Regional Office for Africa.

WHO

WHO supports Government to monitor health inequities amidst COVID-19 response  

Abuja, April 14, 2021 – “During this COVID-19 pandemic, I had serious challenges getting access to health care, especially my daily medication. Due to the lockdown, moving around was difficult as well as getting to the hospital. 

I also remember missing my medication for two days because of the constraints in accessing healthcare”, says Asabe Audu a 35-year-old female, HIV positive civil servant that resides in Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

She also had first-hand experience of inaccessibility to medical attention due to the pandemic. “I go to a private clinic. At some point, I could not see a doctor at all, the nurses t us the doctors have gone to isolation centers or are doing some COVID-19 related engagements”.

Another lady Christine Agbo, a diabetic patient who also reside in Abuja said she missed some of her medical routine during the pandemic. 

“I missed my routine blood sugar testing during the pandemic as I was not able to go to work, I couldn’t make money to afford the tests”.

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted a lot of health services across the world, including Nigeria where a lot of people like Asabe and Christine had their medical routines distorted. 

“To improve this situation, we need to act on the social and economic determinants of health, by working across sectors to improve living and working conditions, and access to education, particularly for the most marginalized groups. Communities need to be engaged as partners, through their networks and associations, to shape and drive health and development interventions” stated Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, WHO Nigeria Country Representative.

WHO Nigeria is supporting the Government to monitor health inequities, and to ensure Universal Health Coverage (UHC)is attained by 2030. 

A WHO report indicates that over 73% of the population make out-of-pocket payments for health services and only 6 800 000 have access to healthcare services which is not up to 10 percent of the entire population. The discussions to review the National Health Insurance act to make it mandatory for enrollment of all persons is critical input in addressing this gap.

WHO Nigeria is supporting government to strengthen capacities for the use of disaggregated data, based on socio-economic stratification of the population, to drive evidence-based decisions for priority areas for health and health related interventions. In addition, WHO is providing technical support for the policies and strategies that would ensure that a lot more people have financial access to quality health services.

Catalytic interventions such as the Integrated Medical Outreach, distribution of Long-Lasting Insecticide mosquito nets, outbreak response to vaccine preventable disease, revitalizing primary health care and improving quality of maternal and child health services, are geared towards mitigating the inequities in health service delivery. This is also supported by commitments by the government to a more systemic wide approach to addressing challenges with human resources needs, information management and use and sustainable financing as well as quality of service delivery in the health system.


Technical Contact:

Dr Boateng Koffi; Email: boatengko [at] who.int; Tel: +234 706 449 1772

WHO

Update COVID-19 13 April 2021

13 April 2021 — Sixty-eight (68) new COVID-19 cases were identified out of 6069 samples tested today. This brings the cumulative number of confirmed cases twenty-three thousand, six hundred and three (23603). To date, twenty-one thousand, three hundred, and ninety-five (21395) patients have recovered, including one hundred and twenty-three (123) in the past 24 hours. The number of active cases is one thousand, eight hundred, and ninety-two (1892) and three hundred and sixteen (316) deaths. 

The new cases are in Nyamagabe (13), Muhanga (10), Nyaruguru (8), Kigali City (7), Nyanza (5), Ngororero (5), Ruhango (3), Rusizi (3), Bugesera (2), Burera (2), Gicumbi(2), Karongi (2), Gakenke (1), Gatsibo (1), Rwamagana (1), Rubavu (1), Gisagara (1), and Kamonyi (1); heightened vigilance is required everywhere.

The COVID-19 prevention measures announced by the Government of Rwanda must continue to be rigorously observed, especially frequent hand-washing and physical distancing. In addition, face masks must be worn in public and multi-family compounds.
Withholding information related to contact tracing or COVID-19 symptoms, jeopardises public safety and will be punished in accordance with applicable laws. 
The key symptoms of coronavirus are dry cough, shortness of breath, and fever. Automated screening is available by dialing *114#. Symptoms can also be reported to a medical professional, or as follows:  
Phone: 114 (toll-free);  
Whatsapp message to:  +250788202080; 
E mail: callcenter [at] rbc.gov.rw.  

 
Let’s continue to work together to defeat this pandemic. 

For more information: 

Click on Rwanda Biomedical Centre Website: https://www.rbc.gov.rw  

Click on WHO African Region COVID-19 Dashboard: https://arcg.is/XvuSX
Click on WHO website to view the Corona Virus Situation Dashboard with updated number of cases globally and country by country https://covid19.who.int/  

 

WHO

Greater Lobatse District Health Management Team Undergoes Rapid Response Training

Lobatse, Botswana – 17 March 2021 

The World Health Organization (WHO) in Botswana in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW) facilitated a Rapid Response Team (RRT) training for Greater Lobatse District Health Management Team (DHMT) on outbreak investigation, data management, community engagement, sample management and contact tracing at all levels of the national health system. The training was supported through the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) funding.

When delivering opening remarks, the head of the Greater Lobatse DHMT, Dr. Motlalepula Pone appreciated the support of the MoHW and WHO. In addition, she urged the participants to take advantage of the training to improve rapid response to emergencies in Good Hope and Lobatse. The training lasted three days and had 37 participants from various cadres including clinicians, laboratory professionals, data clerks, environmental technicians as well as nurses.

The main objective of the training was to strengthen capacities at the district level for effective and rapid response and establishing a district pool (roster) of multidisciplinary experts to enable the DHMT to respond to acute public health events (disease outbreaks and other emergencies with public health implications). The RRT training was interactive and included plenary sessions, presentations, group work to review case studies as well as practical demonstrations and simulations on handwashing; use of Personal Protective Equipment’s (PPEs); safe burial practices; sample collection, processing, packaging, and shipment.

Through the continued support from WHO, Botswana continues to strengthen national capacity for outbreak investigation and response including the availability of functional Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) that enhance outbreak investigation, data management, community engagement, sample management, and contact tracing at all levels of the national health system. RRTs play a critical role in fulfilling the International Health Regulations (IHR) obligations as well as the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) core functions.

As an outcome of this training, participants have adequate competencies in RRT composition, functions, alignment of RRT with current structures such as emergency operation centers and Incident Management System (IMS).

WHO