12 February 2019, Juba – South Sudan conducted an Ebola virus disease (EVD) Tabletop exercise (TTX) for National Rapid Response Team (NRRT) on 12 February 2019. The exercise aimed at enhancing NRRT’s operational readiness by familiarizing participants with the EVD Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on Rapid Response Team (RRT) activation, deployment and field investigation procedures. It also provided participants with an opportunity to evaluate current capabilities and resources for prompt deployment in response to any suspected EVD case.
A total of 70 participants drawn from eight teams comprising of epidemiologists, clinicians, risk communication experts, laboratory technicians, and infection prevention and control experts were engaged in the one-day TTX exercise. The scenario developed for the exercise allowed the participants to be tested on all the aspects of RRT activation, mobilization, deployment, and field investigation. During the simulation, the participants identified gaps in the current SOPs and proposed recommendations for improving the current guidelines.
As the EVD outbreak in DRC evolves, the risk of cross border spread remains high for South Sudan along with 3 other countries neighboring DRC. It is therefore important that the country attains and maintains operational readiness for prompt response to suspected EVD cases. A multi-disciplinary RRT that works to ensure rapid, coordinated detection, investigation, and response to outbreaks of disease are one of the key pillars of the EVD preparedness framework.
Mr Mathew Tut, the Director for Emergency Preparedness and Response and PHEOC Manager of the Ministry of Health said: “due to the history of previous EVD outbreaks, increasing global travel and proximity to DRC and the threat of cross-border spread, it is our responsibility to be prepared for effective alert management at any time”.
Although South Sudan has not confirmed any EVD case, the risk of Ebola importation from North Kivu and Ituri of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) within the country and regionally is very high due to porous border, trade, IDPs and refugees coupled with insecurity, says Dr Olu Olushayo, WHO Representative for South Sudan.
We acknowledge our donors, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Department for International Development (DFID), Canada, and Germany for supporting the ongoing efforts to strengthen the country’s preparedness capacities and mitigate the risk of EVD importation.
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