The World Health Organisation (WHO) has so far trained more than  80 Borno health professionals on Early Warning Alert and Response System (EWARS).

The organisation’s Acting Country Representative, Dr Rex Mpazanje, stated this in a statement issued in Maiduguri on Friday.

Mpazaine further said the latest batch of health workers were trained in Monguno Local Government Area on Sept. 27.

He explained  that 33 of the beneficiaries were Disease Surveillance and Notification Officers and assistant DSNOs while 50 were  Surveillance Officers and IDP Camp Coordinators from targeted health facilities in Maiduguri.

“WHO has so far trained 33 Disease Surveillance and Notification Officers (DSNOs) and assistant DSNOs, 50 Surveillance Officers and Camp Coordinators from targeted health facilities in Maiduguri, and will train more health personnel in other states.”

The acting country representative said  that EWARS was a disease surveillance, alert and response initiative for early detection and containment of disease outbreaks in humanitarian emergency settings.

He pointed out that over 3.7 million people were in dire need of urgent health assistance in the affected states of Borno, Adamawa, Yobe and Gombe.

“Consequently, one of the most immediate responses for WHO in this emergency is “that of setting up EWARS, to detect and facilitate rapid response to suspected disease outbreaks in internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps and host communities in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe states.”

He added: “For over six years, the North Eastern part of Nigeria faced insecurity that left most health facilities and infrastructure damaged, many health workers either killed or abducted while others fled to areas of safety.

This negative fallout, he said,  had left millions of people with limited or no access to any basic primary health services, exposing them to risks of diseases and other health complications.

“The aim of EWARS is to strengthen and expand the existing national Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) system in an effort to reduce the number of cases and deaths due to epidemic prone diseases and other health conditions.”

Mpazanje said that 56 health facilities and 16 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps were being covered by EWARS in five local government areas of the state.

“A total of 56 health facilities and 16 IDP camps are currently being covered by EWARS in five partially accessible LGAs of Maiduguri, Jere, Konduga, Mafa and Kaga, we hope to cover approximately, 1.2 million IDPs in these area.

“The EWARS combines mortality and morbidity surveillance for a total of 17 diseases/health events including all those in the existing national Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response weekly reporting of diseases such as cerebrospinal meningitis, measles and cholera among others,” he said.

Mpazanje added: “WHO will assist the State Ministry of Health to conduct an initial assessment of Health Resource Availability Monitoring System (HeRAMS) in all targeted health facilities in 16 LGAs.

“This will assist in establishing baseline indicators on the capacity of health facilities to deliver primary health care services to IDPs and host communities.

“The results of the assessment will be used to guide the SMOH and partners to appropriately deploy scarce resources and technical support.

“Meanwhile, the current rainy season coupled with overcrowding, poor living conditions lack of adequate nutrition have placed the IDPs in camps and host communities at heightened risk of communicable diseases, such as measles, acute watery diarrhoea and malaria.

“To ensure broad coverage including in hard-to-reach areas, WHO has further increased the EWARS coverage to Monguno LGA where 15 health facility surveillance focal points were trained and the health facilities enrolled on the EWARS platform.

“These 15 health facilities include 12 IDP camp clinics and three host community health facilities including a secondary health facility (General Hospital Monguno). In addition, mobile phones and surveillance reporting tools were provided to ensure a smooth take-off of the project’.”

According to him, WHO is working with the Monguno LGA primary health care department and health sector partners to ensure timely verification of alerts and risk assessments originating from the EWARS.

It gave the assurance that health sector partners and WHO will continue to support the SMOH to ensure a sensitive surveillance system.