A simulation for a global pandemic response involving more than 40 countries takes place 4-6 December, 2018, coordinated by the World Health Organization’s Global Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) and by the ‘EOC Network’, a global network of health emergency operations centres.

This is the first global pandemic response training exercise, and the third in a series of simulations this year, following regional exercises in Jordan and Senegal.  

Nigeria’s national EOC located at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in Abuja has joined the exercise.

Participants are drawn from the Incident Coordination Centre (ICC) at NCDC, the ‘one health’ Ministries (Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Environment, and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development), the World Health Organisation (WHO) country office in Nigeria and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) Country Office.

A representative from the Public Health England is part of the exercise as the evaluator for Nigeria.

Other national EOCs will take part in the interactive scenario, responding to emailed inputs from the WHO EOC. The scenario will revolve around an outbreak of influenza with pandemic potential on the fictional island nation of Mizzou, located off the coast of North America.

There is no actual virus: this is an internet training exercise. The training exercise takes place only within the offices of national and international EOCs. There is no deployment of people or goods. The exercise will not affect public or official activity.

The exercise is occurring on the centenary of the 1918 influenza pandemic (“Spanish flu”), which is estimated to have infected one third of the global population and resulted in the deaths of millions of people. The most recent global flu pandemic occurred about a decade ago. These events occur periodically and it is only a matter of a time before another global pandemic occurs. Member States have been working diligently with WHO to be prepared for the next event.

The exercise offers participants a way to test their plans and capabilities in a realistic environment to gain an in-depth experience that can best be achieved by practice.

Evaluators drawn from Asia, North America, Europe, and Africa will be watching how the participating EOCs perform in real time, measuring performance against what is expected from existing procedures. This experience will identify gaps and areas for opportunity that will ultimately help in the assessment and improvement of Member States’ readiness to respond jointly and effectively to a global public health emergency.

The exercise is only a part of the many ways WHO supports countries to be ready for global health emergencies. The invitation to Nigeria to participate in this global exercise through the NCDC is a recognition of the critical role of NCDC in global health security.

By Dotun Roy

DotunRoy.com is a development driven news website with the overall goal of amplifying, promoting and advocating for positive societal change through Sustainable Development advocacy in line with UN SDGs components such as education, environmental sustainability and Climate Change, Human Rights, health, finance, housing, good governance as well as security in Nigeria and across the world.

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