The health system of the African region was hit by the most devastating shock during the 2014 – 2015 Ebola Virus Disease outbreak. The epidemic lead to over 11,000 deaths and left the health systems of countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea almost at the verge of collapse. The major lesson learnt from the epidemic was the need for countries to be adequately prepared to respond to any public health emergency they are faced with.
To address this problem, the West African Health Organization (WAHO) conducted an epidemic preparedness and response assessment in the ECOWAS member states in 2018. The aim of the assessment was to assess the current state of the health systems and identify gaps that needed to be addressed to enable countries effectively respond to future epidemics. The assessment covered 9 major thematic areas; namely coordination, legislation and policies, surveillance on epidemic prone diseases and risk of health emergencies, workforce development and capacity to contain epidemics and health emergencies, risk communication for epidemics and health emergencies, cross boarder preparedness and response, strengthening laboratory systems and networks, the one health approach and resource mobilization for epidemic and health emergencies preparedness and response. As findings from this assessment were been deliberated upon to clearly map out strategies for implementation, the entire world was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Before any cases were recorded in the West African region, WAHO again conducted a rapid assessment on countries preparedness for COVID -19.
With support from the African Field Epidemiology Network and West African Health Organization, findings from these assessments are presented in this supplement. Manuscripts focus mainly on preparedness, response and mitigation strategies of countries and the ECOWAS sub-region as a whole. The supplement is made of ten manuscripts detailing the epidemic preparedness and response assessment in individual member countries, the COVID-19 capacity assessment, and workforce capacity assessments in the ECOWAS Region
Guest editors: Prof Margaret Lartey and Dr Mahmood Dalhat
Contact: Dr Virgil Lokossou, Team Lead, Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Division, ECOWAS Regional Center for Surveillance and Disease Control, West African Health Organisation
Prof Ernest Kenu, Director, Ghana Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme, University of Ghana School of Public Health, Legon, Accra
Supplement booklet (PDF) not available
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The Journal of Interventional Epidemiology and Public Health (ISSN: 2664-2824). The contents of this journal is intended exclusively for public health professionals and allied disciplines.