A joint World Health Organization and International Civil Aviation Organization Training of Trainers for Public Health Event Management in Air Transport kicked off in Harare yesterday. The meeting, which is taking place at Holiday Inn Harare, has brought together participants from 13 countries: Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Rwanda, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. The participation by the13 different countries and the background of the participants is an excellent demonstration of the collaboration between the health sector and the air transportation sector, working together in line with the International Health Regulations Frameworks.
The general objective for the meeting is to enhance the capacities of competent authorities at African Airports, especially those open to international travels to implement a risk assessment approach to public health events, in a consistent manner and assist in determining interventions that are commensurate to the risks, while avoiding unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade. It is expected that at the end of the training, participants will:
– Establish/revise/update national or site specific operational plans and standard operating procedures (SOPs) to manage public health events during air transport.
– Use the Risk Management Model of: event detection and notification; event verification; preliminary “immediate” arrangements; risk assessment; public health Response; and monitoring and evaluation and;
– Organize or facilitate similar trainings future trainings at regional or country levels.
With the adoption of an all-hazard approach to public health risk, event management in air transport requires a multidisciplinary, multi-sector approach and must be implemented in the context of International Health Regulations (IHR), other intergovernmental agreements and national and regional rules and regulations. WHO develops guidelines, technical materials and training, and fosters networks for sharing expertise and best practice to assist countries in enhancing operational capacities for managing public health events in aviation, in terms of risk assessment, epi-investigation, reporting, adoption of public health measures, communication with national surveillance system, in a multi-sectoral approach.