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Economic Community of West African States Disaster Preparedness Tabletop Exercise: Building Regional Capacity to Enhance Health Security

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 May 2018

Melinda J. Morton Hamer*
Affiliation:
Center for Global Health Engagement, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, Maryland Department of Emergency Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland National Center for the Study of Preparedness and Catastrophic Event Response, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland Center for Refugee and Disaster Response, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland
Paul L. Reed
Affiliation:
Center for Global Health Engagement, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, Maryland
Jane D. Greulich
Affiliation:
Center for Global Health Engagement, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, Maryland
Charles W. Beadling
Affiliation:
Center for Global Health Engagement, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, Maryland
*
Correspondence and reprint requests to Melinda J. Morton Hamer, Department of Emergency Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 1830 E. Monument St., Suite 6-100, Baltimore, MD 21205 (e-mail: mmorton@jhmi.edu).

Abstract

Objective

The West African Disaster Preparedness Initiative held a disaster preparedness tabletop exercise with representatives from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in November 2015. The tabletop exercise was hosted by the Republic of Ghana’s National Disaster Management Organization and partners in Accra, Ghana.

Methods

ECOWAS Commission delegates and representatives from 10 member states were confronted with a series of simulated crises. Participants utilized existing national preparedness plans and web-based information technologies to research and communicate about internal disaster threats and those from neighboring countries. After each of the exercise’s three phases, facilitators distributed participant surveys.

Results

A total of 106 individuals participated in the tabletop exercise. During the exercise, national teams utilizing well-developed disaster contingency plans and emergency operations center (EOC) standard operating procedures (SOPs) reached out to help less-prepared national teams. Key issues identified in the survey were language and cultural issues as barriers, effectiveness of disaster management agencies linked to heads of state, and the need for data sharing and real-time communication for situational awareness and multisector coordination.

Conclusion

This tabletop exercise helped improve and refine the ECOWAS regional and member states’ national SOPs that teams will employ to prepare for, respond to, and recover from future disasters. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2019;13:400-404)

Type
Brief Report
Copyright
Copyright © 2018 Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc. 

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