Promoting Better Biorisk Management in Ukraine

CRDF Global has assisted with the implementation of three workshops in Ukraine that aimed to build national capacity for disease detection and outbreak response. The workshops focused on the investigation and control of severe infectious disease outbreaks, with a particular emphasis on the rapid assessment and investigation of outbreaks of suspicious origins. The trainings were co-implemented with the Eastern Mediterranean Public Health Network (EMPHNET), with funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Biosecurity Engagement Program (BEP).
The workshops worked to harmonize strategies at the national level within Ukraine for outbreak investigation and further enhanced the capacity of Ukraine’s national health system to bridge the communication gaps between ministry focal points, human health, animal health and regulatory authorities across all regions of the country. Disruption to regular health systems due to ongoing conflict in Ukraine poses a particular threat to the rapid and effective response of public health officials to deal with any potential outbreaks.
In support of these objectives, EMPHNET trained Ukrainian public health officials from all regions of the country in the formation of rapid response teams. The workshops included discussions, presentations and numerous exercises to enhance the efforts of Ukrainian epidemiologists, including by utilizing the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations (IHR). IHR concepts were developed in order to analyze the surveillance, alert and response systems used in public health events, and the IHR provides an effective framework for advocacy, planning and capacity development at the regional and national level. Discussions using IHR concepts provided participants the opportunity to imagine how they would respond to a country-wide outbreak, focusing on risk communication, information sharing and how to incorporate multiple disciplines within the public health realm under the collaborative One Health framework in order to attain the optimal health of humans, animals and the environment.
Two of the trainings were held at the Mechnikov Anti-Plague Research Institute in Odessa and the final training was held at the National Institute of Veterinary Medicine in Kyiv. The collaborative effort with Ukrainian public health officials made the workshops a tremendous success, with numerous lessons learned and connections built within Ukraine to continue to enhance the capabilities of its public health responses.