Training workshop on the transport of infectious substances
From September 9-13, 2019, the West Africa Health Organization (WAHO) and its partners, GFA Consulting Group and Fondation Mérieux, conducted a training of trainers workshop in Grand-Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire. The participants came from the 15 countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region. The training program, funded by the German government through KfW, was about the transport of infectious substances in accordance with IATA standards.
The workshop was organized by WAHO in the context of the Strengthening of Epidemiological Services and Health Systems in the ECOWAS Region project. The objective of the workshop was to train a group of trainers on the transport of infectious substances by plane. These trainers will share their knowledge at the national level to enable laboratories to work according to international standards and progress towards an ISO15189 accreditation.
The workshop has been a successful step towards the aim of supporting the establishment of a regional epidemiological surveillance system in the ECOWAS region. The 2014/15 Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) epidemic tragically demonstrated the failure of epidemiological surveillance systems at national and regional levels. It highlighted the fragility of health care systems in the ECOWAS region in case of such unexpected and dramatic events. Many of the more than 11,000 case fatalities registered could have been prevented had an effective early warning and response system involving national, regional, and international partners been in place at the time of the outbreak. Instead, the epidemic has further weakened the already fragile health systems of these countries and continues to have a negative impact on social and economic development.
The German government, through KfW, has allocated a budget of ten million euros for the Strengthening Epidemiological Services and Health Systems in the ECOWAS Region project during the period of 2018-2021. With a focus on Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger and Nigeria, national and regional reference laboratories have been strengthened through needs-based finance of long-lasting, high-quality equipment, including reagents and consumables, and through capacity building for an ISO15189 accreditation.