WAHO and Nigeria CDC organized the biggest ever Yellow Fever Simulation Exercise (SIMEX) in West Africa
The West African Health Organization (WAHO), in its efforts to contribute to the capacity building of ECOWAS Member States in the area of preparedness and response to epidemics, is supporting the establishment of national emergency management mechanisms for public health emergencies.
To test these mechanisms and procedures in place for the management of major public health events in the ECOWAS region, WAHO teamed up with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to organize the biggest ever Yellow Fever Simulation Exercise (SIMEX). This was conducted in Lagos from March 12-15, 2018 with funding from the Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement (Project) of the World Bank.
Purpose of the SIMEX: Provide various partner institutions with a national and regional coordination framework for a multi-sectoral response to a public health emergency.
General Objective: Strengthen preparedness and response capacities of the Nigerian Health System to a possible outbreak of yellow fever in an urban setting.
- Test the effectiveness of preparedness and response measures of Nigeria in the event of Yellow Fever outbreak;
- Strengthen the capacity of individuals and institutions to carry out planning to improve response to Yellow Fever outbreaks;
- Strengthen partnership, teamwork and multi-sectoral collaboration among Nigerian health workforce in managing Yellow Fever outbreaks;
- Share the major conclusions and lessons learnt from this exercise with key policy makers on epidemic preparedness and response.
The opening ceremony was held at the Radisson Blu Hotel of Ikeja, Lagos and was chaired by the Director of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Professor Babatunde Salako, representing the Honorable MInister of Health. Other officials included the Director General of WAHO, Professor Stanley Okolo, the CEO of the Nigerian CDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu and the Commissioner of Health, Dr Jide Idris.
The ceremony was also witnessed by the following:
- WAHO Staff
- Nigeria CDC staff
- ECOWAS Regional Center for Surveillance and Disease Control (RCSDC) staff
- ECOWAS Humanitarian Affairs Division representatives
- ECOWAS Regional Rapid Response Team Members
- ECOWAS Regional Animal Health Center (RAHC) representatives
- Africa Field Epidemiological Network (AFENET) representatives
- ECOWAS Member States representatives
- Technical and Financial Partners such as WHO (State, Federal, Regional Office and Headquarters), Africa CDC, US CDC, USAID, GIZ, IOM, IFRC, Institut Pasteur de Dakar and UNICEF.
Speeches of the day:
- Welcome address by the Commissioner of Health, Dr Jide Idris, representing the Governor of Lagos State
- Speech by the Director General of WAHO, Professor Stanley Okolo
- Speech by the CEO of the Nigerian CDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu
- Keynote Address by Professor Babatunde Salako, representing the Honorable Minister of Health.
Orientation of SIMEX participants
This session consisted mainly of:
- Brief overview of the exercise;
- An overview of the exercise management team, participants and their roles;
- Presentation of the rules of the SIMEX and Communication lines.
Onsite simulation exercise
Onsite simulation took place on various sites.
- Lagos State MoH
- Lagos University Teaching Hospital
- Mainland Hospital
- Seme border
- Shomolu LGA and private clinics
- NCDC Reference Laboratory Lagos (Central Public Health laboratory)
- Entomology and vector control (NCDC, Lagos)
- Murtala Muhammed International Airport
An Exercise Control Room was also set up where real-time data were processed.
Evaluation of the SIMEX
- What I enjoyed
- What I did not enjoy
- What I learned
- What I would have done
The Director of the Department of Epidemics and Disease Control at WAHO, Dr Carlos Brito, and the Director, Disease Surveillance at Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Mrs. Olubunmi Ojo, appeared on Soni Irabor live radio show on Inspiration 92.3 FM in Lagos to provide more information on the Yellow Fever Simulation Exercise.
After the opening ceremony, a press briefing was held. Officials who participated included:
- The Director of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Professor Babatunde Salako, representing the Honorable MInister of Health;
- The Director General of WAHO, Professor Stanley Okolo;
- The CEO of the Nigerian CDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu;
- The Commissioner of Health, Dr Jide Idri.
Other participants were the Program Manager of AFENET and a representative from WHO-AFRO.
The Director General of WAHO, Professor Stanley Okolo appeared on two separate TV news where he provided detailed information on:
- Why the Yellow Fever Simulation Exercise;
- How to avoid an edpidemic; and
- The role of WAHO, among others.