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Zambia intensifies training to counter Ebola

By VIOLET MENGO
The outbreak of the deadly Ebola disease in West Africa has necessitated the training of epidemiologists in Zambia to prevent, detect and respond to public emergencies.
Ministry of Health permanent secretary Davy Chikamata said in Lusaka at the launch of the Zambia field epidemiology training that the training is a major step in strengthening the country’s health security.
“Strengthening Zambia’s health security strengthens global health security because we are all aware of today’s rapid travels and trade routes, geo-political borders offer minimal barriers to international infectious disease spread,” Dr Chikamata said.
He said six exemplary Ministry of Health and Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health employees were selected as the first cohort of residents after a competitive application process.
Dr Chikamata said these will graduate in 2016 with the knowledge and expertise required to assume leadership positions in the field of public health, mentor and train other health workers and enhance Zambia’s public health workforce.
He said epidemiology training will help Zambia effectively prepare and quickly respond not only to acute disease threats like Ebola but also to endemic diseases such as malaria and HIV.
Employees will undertake training to investigate disease outbreak, improve disease surveillance response to public health emergencies and use data to inform health policy and decision-making.
Dr Chikamata said the residents will better manage other health challenges such as cancer, maternal and child health, road traffic injuries, diabetes and vaccin- preventable diseases.
Outgoing Centre for Disease Control (CDC) country director Lawrence Marun is hopeful that the two-year training programme will help Zambia manage the outbreak of diseases.
The national field epidemiology training programme is a comprehensive two-year competency-based training and service supported by the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) through the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Zambia.

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