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Health disaster: Ebola epidemics in Africa – Guinea

Based on lessons learned from past experiences, especially those accumulated during the 2014-2015 Ebola crisis in West Africa, gaps and needs have been identified and discussed in numerous lessons learned reports. The goal of the health crisis demonstration is to assess the potential of newly developed tools (tools developed by partners during the project and integrated in the Reaching-Out portal) to address those gaps and to demonstrate how more synergy between MS civil, military actors and NGOs can, together with the existing capacities, augment the EU support for health crisis management, from the preparation of air deployment to the exit and restoration phase. The tools to be assessed in the field will address such issues as lack of stakeholders training, challenges of transport and logistics in the crisis field, on-site security and biosafety; provide rapid and reliable diagnostic capabilities; provide a clear, dynamically updatable situational awareness to feed in decision support tools; anthropological studies of the affected population, with a careful consideration of ethical, cultural, political issues and appropriate psychosocial support for people; provide reliable communication tools; improve post-crisis management; ensure interoperability of the portal with the existing tools, standard operating procedures, analytical equipment, and other tools developed. The Health crisis demonstration follows an Ebola scenario, based on situations encountered during the West Africa 2014-2015 Ebola crisis.

Ebola virus:

Credit: Cynthia Goldsmith/CDC - Nat. Center for Infectious Diseases; Special Pathogens Branch

The field demonstration will take place in December 2018 in Conakry, Guinea, followed by a thorough evaluation and validation phase. So far, 55 tools developed by the Reaching-Out partners have been identified. The final selection of tools to be tested in the field during the Ebola mission will be made after the first round of evaluation during the table top exercise in April 2018. The demonstration follows a generalized mission cycle, with 5 phases comprising 11 steps, as adapted from [1] and [2] and illustrated below.

Figure: Mission cycle (Adapted for Reaching Out from [1-2]

Phase 1: Mission activation starts with a request for mission. Whereas Phase 1 generally lasts for a few weeks in a real-life situation, it will be extended over several months in the Reaching Out Project. The mission will be confirmed as soon as it has been ascertained that the mission specifications are in line with the capacity and available resources (specifically, after the table top exercise in April 2018).
Phase 2: Mission planning goes according to specifications. At the planning phase, the characteristics of the on-site location where the mission will be deployed are defined, and the capacity is built according to the requirements of the mission. The evaluation focuses on which services and tools can be supplied locally and which of them must be brought along. The list of stakeholders, partners, and volunteers to participate in the mission is confirmed; the staff is comprehensively informed about the mission objectives and specifications. The tools are integrated, and a dry run is carried out.
Phase 3: Mission execution is based on all the situational awareness components that can affect the mission and anvolves the execution of all the relevant OFs planned according to the mission objectives.
Phase 4: The end of mission comprises a set of OFs dedicated to site restoration and preparation for repatriation (return to the basis) or relocation (redeployment elsewhere). The debriefing step includes immediate feedback on the successive phases of the mission just accomplished.
Phase 5: The mission cycle ends with the “Post-crisis management” phase in which lessons learnt from the mission are carefully analyzed in terms of overall success, achievement of the original objectives, costs, and future needs. The mission is evaluated, and a report is sent to the stakeholders.

Working with Ebola patients- © CTMA, UCL

Besides UCL, who is the leader of the Demo, 13 Reaching Out partners are involved in the Ebola demonstration: AIRBUS, UCSC, UCL, RINICOM, UiA, UNS, VTT, APL, PHE, UNINA, ENSL, EUREKA, SATCEN, Finmeccanica, and LDI.

The Ebola demonstration will be organized in Conakry, the capital city of Guinea, in close collaboration with the Guinean authorities (especially, the Ministry of Health). The local civil society will also be an important stakeholder, and volunteers will be selected from the local population. The demonstration will also receive support from international NGOs that have experience in providing medical care during emergencies and humanitarian crises.

Map Guinea :

Attribution: By CIA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

1. Vybornova, O. and J.-L. Gala, Decision support in a fieldable laboratory management during an epidemic outbreak of disease. Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, 2016. 6(3): p. 264-295.
2. Vybornova, O., et al., Information Management Supporting Deployment of a Light Fieldable Laboratory: A Case for Ebola Crisis. Universal Journal of Management, 2016. 4: p. 16-28.