The Ministry of Health of South Sudan, with support from the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNICEF, International Medical Corps (IMC) Consortium (Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA), Concern and GOAL International) and other partners, conducted a one day full scale simulation exercise (SIMEX) on 14 August 2019 in Juba, Nimule and Yei.
South Sudan has not reported any Ebola case. The simulation exercise was part of South Sudan’s preparedness efforts to prevent, as well as to manage any possible suspected cases of Ebola in the country.
The objective of the full scale simulation exercise was to test and validate capabilities for early detection, rapid response, and effective coordination at national, state and community levels, in view of the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The SIMIX has given us a lot of information including our strengths and gaps in the preparedness and response activities. Accordingly we will recitfy gaps early on, said Dr Pinyi Nyimol Mawien, Director General for Preventive Health Services in the Ministry of Health in South Sudan.
The SIMEX involved over 190 participants from Ministry of Health, WHO, and partners and was designed to test the implementation level of the International Health Regulations (2005) protocols for the designated two points of entry (Juba and Nimule).
“The simulation exercise is vital to evaluate and enhance operational capacities in emergency management”, said Dr Olushayo Olu, WHO Representative for South Sudan. “Several drills and functional exercises have been conducted in South Sudan leading up to this full-scale simulation.”
The trainers observed participants who were confronted with a hypothetical scenario of multiple suspected cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD).
Throughout the SIMEX, trainers tested the administered preparedness and operational readiness including donning and doffing of personal protective equipment (PPE); preparation of chlorine solution; collection and handling of blood samples (pre-analytic phase); terminal disinfection and waste management at healthcare centre; patient referral, vehicle disinfection; safe and dignified burials; data management, analysis and interpretation; reporting; contact identification, contact listing; contact investigation, contact follow-up; ring vaccination, screening of travellers at a designated PoE and testing the linkages and communication with the EVD hotline and the patient transfer using EVD ambulances to the Isolation Facilities to respond to the scenario of a potential EVD outbreak in South Sudan.
Following the conclusion of the SIMEX, trainers and participants reviewed and evaluated the performance of all involved actors in order to maximize timely, effective, and coordinated responses to an EVD outbreak.
The functions tested in the full scale exercise included overall coordination and communication at national and sub-national levels and the linkages between the two levels; surveillance, and reporting of a public health event; public health emergency operations centre (PHEOC) activation, contact tracing; rapid response team capacity; ambulance services; case management at healthcare centres; case management at Ebola treatment centre (ETC); infection prevention and control; disinfection and waste management; risk communications; engagement of communities; finance and administration; operations support and logistics; movement of emergency supplies and equipment, exit screening, PHEOC ability to coordinate the multiple entities, collaboration of the various institutions among others.
The findings of the exercise will be used to validate the existing response mechanisms and identify areas within the preparedness plans and standard operating procedures that may require strengthening.
The Ministry of Health, the United Nations and partners have been working collectively on Ebola prevention and preparedness since the onset of the outbreak in DRC and will continue to strengthen measures.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of WHO Regional Office for Africa.
During the SIMEX – health workers evaucate suspected Ebola patient at Juba International Airport