TEPHINET Supports Regional Emergency Response Training in Colombia

Tina Rezvani, Communications Manager

TEPHINET recently provided logistical support to a series of workshops held by the Emergency Response and Recovery Branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Bogota, Colombia from July 25 to August 2. These included a Basic Incident Management System (IMS) training for staff from the Colombian National Institute of Health (Instituto Nacional de Salud) and a regional training-of-trainers workshop and rapid response team (RRT) management training for participants from Colombia, Peru, and Brazil.

Among the more than 30 participants, many of whom are field epidemiology training program (FETP) alumni, were staff from country Emergency Operations Centers and Ministry of Health divisions of surveillance and risk analysis, as well as firefighters. Dr. Angela Hilmers, Senior Associate Director for Science of TEPHINET, attended the workshop.

"The presence of strong Incident Management Systems means that countries have functional facilities, equipment, personnel, and procedures to help manage their resources during incidents, which could include outbreaks, natural disasters, and other public health emergencies," says Hilmers. "RRT training enhances countries’ abilities to respond quickly and effectively to such hazards through the deployment of a skilled public health emergency response workforce."

Training topics included basic IMS principles and RRT management in both the emergency preparedness and response phases. Specifically, participants discussed activities and experiences related to RRT planning, staffing and rostering, administrative considerations, training, and plan writing, in addition to RRT procedures related to the activation, pre-deployment, deployment, post-deployment phases of a response.

One of the key aims of this training was to strengthen the capacity of public health systems across the region to respond effectively to the Venezuelan refugee crisis. Fleeing political and economic unrest which has, among other catastrophes, collapsed the Venezuelan health system, more than four million Venezuelan migrants are now living and seeking medical care around the world. As of June 2019, there are an estimated 1.3 million Venezuelan migrants in Colombia, 768,000 in Peru, and 168,000 in Brazil (source: UNHCR).