Empowering Health Champions: World Health Organization’s (WHO) Role in Advancing Disease Surveillance in South Africa
In a significant stride towards strengthening public health capacities, the World Health Organization (WHO) played a pivotal role in a transformative initiative that underscores its commitment to global health security. The Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) Training of Trainers program recently held in Cape Town, South Africa stands as a testament to WHO's dedication to enhancing disease surveillance capabilities and bolstering national health emergency preparedness.
Collaborating closely with the South Africa National Department of Health and other stakeholders, WHO orchestrated a comprehensive training endeavor that showcased the organization's expertise and dedication to advancing national and global health security. With the successful adaptation of the 3rd Edition Technical Guidelines and Training materials for the IDSR strategy in July 2023, the stage was set for the groundbreaking training event. The National Training-of-Trainers, held from August 7th to 11th, 2023, at the Blue Lagoon Beach Hotel in Cape Town, Western Cape Province, gathered 150 participants from various professional backgrounds across all nine provinces of South Africa.
At the heart of the IDSR Training of Trainers program was the aspiration to build the capacity of identified training coordinators and facilitators. This initiative sought to empower these individuals with the knowledge, skills, and strategies needed to cascade the IDSR training program to a broader spectrum of stakeholders at provincial, district, health facility, and community level. WHO, in collaboration with technical officers from the WHO country office in South Africa, the Brazzaville, the National Department of Health, and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, curated an multidisciplinary educational experience to align with the IDSR training manual.
The training program was meticulously designed to meet a range of objectives that speak to WHO's commitment to effective emergency management and health systems strengthening:
- Supporting Health Emergency Preparedness: By explaining the integral role of IDSR training within the health emergency preparedness and response cycle, WHO illuminated the crucial synergy between surveillance systems and response strategies.
- Tailoring Learning Principles: Through the adaptation of the IDSR training program based on adult learning principles and local context, WHO showcased its adaptability and nuanced approach to knowledge dissemination.
- Engaging and Interactive Methodologies: WHO, as a facilitator of learning, introduced interactive methodologies that engaged participants and fostered critical thinking and skill acquisition, thereby emphasizing the organization's innovative approach to capacity-building.
- Mastering Training Strategies: By imparting mastery in key training strategies, WHO demonstrated its dedication to sharing globally accepted practices, thereby contributing to the skill enhancement of participants.
- Seamless Coordination and Implementation: WHO's involvement in coordinating the implementation of the IDSR training program underlines its capacity to oversee complex processes and contribute to seamless execution.
- Fostering Personal Development: Through encouraging participants to initiate personal development plans, WHO reinforced its role as a platform for professional growth and advancement.
- Identifying Financial Support: By guiding participants in identifying potential financial support sources, WHO showcased its wide-ranging network and commitment to the sustainability of training programs.
As the training concluded, participants emerged with not only enhanced knowledge and skills in the IDSR strategy but also a profound understanding of how to apply these competencies in real-world scenarios. WHO's commitment to empowering health professionals extended beyond theory and into practical application, allowing participants to bridge the gap between theory and practice seamlessly.
This training-of-trainers initiative aligns with WHO's global mission of achieving better health outcomes for all. By equipping local stakeholders with the tools to improve surveillance and response mechanisms, WHO lays the foundation for a more resilient and prepared health system. The organization's dedication to promoting health security at all levels contributes significantly to national readiness to combat future pandemics and other public health events.
In collaboration with its esteemed partners and stakeholders, WHO continues to shine as a beacon of excellence in advancing global health security, disease surveillance, and response capacities. Through initiatives like the IDSR Training of Trainers program, WHO reaffirms its role as a driving force in fostering a healthier, safer world for all. The training was co-financed by the National Department of Health and Global Affairs Canada support to WHO.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO) – South Africa.