With the easing of restrictions, the Emergency Preparedness Response and Resilience (EPRR) team were eager to visit Zambia – as their most recent deployment was 2 years ago! This gave us an opportunity to meet with the in-country team members and our colleagues at the Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI), who invited us to deliver a familiarisation and validation exercise for the Zambian All-Hazards Preparedness and Response Plan that has been in draft since 2019.
The event took place over 4 days, with a familiarisation session on day 1and on days 2-3 an exercise that consisted of a fictional scenario being used to encourage discussion on topics ranging from One Health, rapid response teams, lab capacity, environmental contaminants, food security, conflict, community engagement and risk communication. These discussions helped over twenty attendees from cross-government agencies identify potential gaps in the plan and offer recommendations for its improvement. On the final day, ZNPHI colleagues led an amendment session of the plan - these amendments will feed into the finalised plan which it is hoped will be published early in 2022. The event was very well received and will assist the advancement of other areas of EPRR work within ZNPHI. Multiple agencies attended the event including the Zambian Red Cross, Radiation Protection Authority, Provincial and District health officers, encouraging a multisectoral approach and greater collaboration between multisector stakeholders.
Now that ZNPHI has a legal mandate as a public health institution (circa 2020) they are keen to finalise and publish the document in the coming months, so watch this space! The visit was well received by our Zambian Colleagues and we look forward to more opportunities to strengthen EPRR capacity together.