Module 4 - Humanitarian emergencies and Mass Gatherings

The 4th Module on “Humanitarian emergencies and Mass Gatherings” was jointly organized by the MediPIET core Team and the Ministry of Health of Morocco, nt-Epidemiological Surveillance Service, Directorate of Epidemiology and the Disease Control (Direction De l’Epidémiologie et Lutte Contre Les Maladies, DELM, in Rabat, Morocco, from the 27 to the 31 January 2020.

This one-week training module on “Humanitarian emergencies and MassGatherings” provided participants with definitions and concepts for humanitarian emergencies, mass gatherings and other communicable disease threats as well as the skills needed to perform rapid risk assessments, implement surveillance systems, respond to outbreaks, conduct surveys including sampling, communicate risks and use mobile applications to collect data during such events.

The teaching methods included interactive alternate lectures from experts with a wealth of experience in humanitarian emergencies, mass gatherings and rapid risk assessments and hands-on sessions (practical sessions) which were designed so participants apply the content and concepts communicated through the lectures to real situations.A lot of time was dedicated to practical sessions which used case studies and exercises with tutoring and participants were working together in an interactive way in groups or in plenary followed by wrap-up sessions by the facilitators and discussions on the main results. Most case studies and exercises were provided with help guides and answers to questions or instructions on the use of the newly introduced software.

Computer software used throughout the week were: Microsoft Excel, STATA 16, KoBo Toolbox and KoBoCollect, OSMand, Google Earth, Geographical Positioning System (GPS) online converter and Epop.

Dr Iro Evlampidou, Dr Angeliki Lambrou , Dr Adela Paez Jimenez as MediPIET Scientific Coordinators and Ms Concha Martin Pando as Key Expert in Capacity Building, supported by Dr Isabel Noguer, ISCIII Leader for MediPIET Consortium, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health in Rabat, Morocco, and specifically with Dr Ahmed Rguig, Director of Service De La Surveillance Epidemiologique, DELM, and Dr Bouchaib Benbakhta, DELM have put together the contents and mobilised a group of 10 senior experts, with a lot of teaching and field experience from the Moroccan Ministry of Health, the University Mohamed V, the Moroccan National Public Health School, WHO Health Emergencies Programme, ECDC, Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)
A total of 26 participants attended the module, including fifteen fellows of the Third MediPIET Cohort and six external participants, one from each of the following countries: Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Egypt, Jordan, Libya and Montenegro and one observer participant from Turkey. Moreover, five local participants from Rabat, Casablanca and Marrakech were nominated by the country and four attended the module.
The training objectives were that at the end of the module participants should be able to:

A. Humanitarian emergencies
• Define humanitarian and complex emergencies
• Perform rapid needs assessment, identify priorities and set up indicators
• Set up surveillance and early warning systems
• Choose the appropriate methodology for sampling and population estimation
• Describe the principles and challenges of conducting surveys (mortality, nutritional, vaccination coverage)

B. Mass Gatherings
• Define and identify mass gathering events and perform risk assessment
• Describe the principles of surveillance, outbreak alert and response
• Apply risk communication strategies and engage in intersectoral and cross-border collaboration
• List major regional mass gathering events, their successes and challenges

C. Risk assessment and Mobile technology for data collection
• Apply the ECDC operational tool on Rapid Risk Assessment methodology to assess the risks of communicable disease threats
• Design questionnaires and collect data using the KoBo Toolbox mobile application
• Use GPS technology to locate points and draw polygons for population estimation

For most participants the module content was new and it was considered useful and interesting. The aspects that were highly appreciated were the facilitation and interaction with the facilitators and the practical exercises and case studies for which participants would have liked to spend more time.
MediPIET core team is very grateful to all the institutions and facilitators involved in the contents of this module. Their contribution was outstanding and the participation of their professionals throughout the duration of the module is acknowledged and highly appreciated.
Special gratefulness as well, to all the staff of the Moroccan Ministry of Health, Directorate of Epidemiology and the Disease Control (DELM) for their kindness and hospitality that eased the implementation of the activity.

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