Egyptian Red Crescent hosts the region’s first IFRC-led Ebola preparedness workshop

Publicado: 8 abril 2015 15:19 CET

By Soraya Dali-Balta, IFRC

As the Ebola virus continues to devastate areas of West Africa, the Middle East and North Africa Zone office of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched a campaign to prepare National Societies in the region to respond to similar disease outbreaks.

The first Ebola Preparedness and Coordination Workshop was hosted by the Egyptian Red Crescent Society in Cairo on 9-10 March 2015, bringing together the five National Societies of the North Africa region, in addition to a delegate from the British Red Cross and representatives from the IFRC MENA Zone office in Beirut, IFRC regional office in Tunisia and the secretariat in Geneva. Also in attendance was a representative from the World Health Organisation’s office in Cairo, who gave a presentation on the nature of the Ebola virus, as well as on the readiness of countries in the Middle East and North Africa region to fight the spread of similar pandemics.

Commenting on the newly launched IFRC campaign, the Secretary General of the Egyptian Red Crescent Society, Dr Moamena Kamel said: “This is a good start. The region is witnessing climate change and is exposed to environmental and health risks, and this workshop is a good start to learn how to deal with such developments.”

Over the two day event, experts in the Disaster Management and Communications sectors in the Egyptian Red Crescent Society, the Libyan Red Crescent, the Tunisian Red Crescent, the Algerian Red Crescent and the Moroccan Red Crescent were presented with the latest updates on operations fighting the spread of Ebola in West Africa, basic information regarding the virus, and how it is transmittable and contained.

A series of theoretical and practical sessions went beyond the current crisis to deal with health emergencies and infectious diseases in general, such as the effective use of Personal Protective Equipment.

Participating societies were encouraged to join the #wordsagainstebola campaign divised to fight the stigma, the fear and the misunderstandings surrounding the disease, and to show solidarity with the workers saving lives in the field.

Meanwhile, participants shared with fellow Red Cross and Red Crescent societies the current situation in their respective countries and their readiness to face any similar health scare, building on previous experiences in fighting infectious diseases.

Stressing the importance of the workshop, IFRC Emergency Health Coordinator Mr Panu Saaristo said: “This is an opportunity to link National Societies in the Middle East and North Africa region who are exposed to emerging threats. And it is also useful for their long-term programs and disaster response.”

Dr Nihal Hefny, the Programmes and Project Coordinator at the Egyptian Red Crescent Society, also considered the Ebola Preparedness and Coordination Workshop an opportunity for National Societies in MENA to share their experiences, assess their needs and exchange expertise in combating other health-related threats.