In 2017, WHO conducted a Joint External Evaluation (JEE) to assess Zambia’s core capacities and readiness to prevent, detect, and respond to emergencies as per the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005). A key finding from the evaluation under Emergency preparedness was the lack of a Multi Hazard Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) plan which should be implemented at national and subnational levels. The overall aim of the Multi Hazards EPR plan is to provide details of risk reduction, epidemic preparedness, response actions and the recovery processes for possible hazards.
To address the recommendations of the JEE, the Multi Hazards EPR plan was developed in 2021 with contingency plans for nine out of the thirteen hazards that were prioritized using the Strategic Tool for Assessing Risks (STAR). UKHSA’s Emergency Preparedness Response and Resilience (EPRR) team actively participated in both the development of the multi-Hazard EPR plan and contingency plans.
The UKHSA-delivered IHR Strengthening Project (IHR-SP) in collaboration with the Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI) EPR cluster and the World Health Organization (WHO) conducted dissemination and orientation workshops in in all ten provinces of Zambia from 10th-14th July 2023. Epidemic Prevention, Preparedness, Management and Control (EPPMC) Committee Terms of Reference (TORs) were also disseminated to subnational level. A two-day preparatory meeting prior to the dissemination was held from 6th-7th July 2023.
The main aim of these workshops was to build multi-sectoral capacity in the provinces and selected districts prone to public health hazards in the management of public health events using the Multi Hazards EPR plan. In turn, this would enable partners to be prepared and operationally ready for response to any public health event as per the multi-hazard requirement of IHR.
Participants were orientated on effective multi-sectoral coordination and response to the public health emergencies; timely notification; detection; rapid risk assessment; grading of health events; coordination during emergency response; emergency response phase out and deactivation; specific contingency plans and EPPMC terms of reference. Participative methodologies combining experts’ presentations with group work and scenario-based activities were utilized, enabling participants to apply and test what they learnt.
Photo 1: Ndola, Copperbelt Province (Participants)
Photo 2: Lusaka, Facilitators preparatory meeting
A total of 249 participants from various sectors in the ten provinces were trained. Organisations represented at subnational level included the District Commissioners office, Ministry of Local Government and Housing, Ministry of Home Affairs, Road Traffic and Safety Agency, Zambia News and Information Services, Zambia Environmental Management Agency, Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, Metrological Department, Ministry of Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Community Development.
Photo 3:Chinsali,Muchinga Province
Photo 4:Mongu, Western Province
Photo5 : Chipata, Eastern Province
Photo 6: Ndola,Copperbelt
The multi-hazards EPR plan has since been successfully rolled out in 50 districts, with work ongoing in the remaining 66 districts.
By Dr Dingase Mvula