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October 16 2016

Public health, clinical and laboratory professionals across Vanuatu convened in Port Vila this week to reinforce their outbreak investigation skills with the Pacific Data for Decision-Making (DDM) training programme.

This is the second DDM training module organised this year by the Vanuatu Ministry of Health and the Pacific Community (SPC), in collaboration with Hunter New England (HNE) Local Health District Population Health from Australia.

The first DDM module was held in July and focused on public health surveillance.

Both trainings are part of the recovery activities in response to cyclone Pam to help strengthen the capacity of Vanuatu health staff on public health surveillance as well as detecting and responding to outbreaks.

They come as a follow up to the post-disaster surveillance and response work carried out by Vanuatu Ministry of Health and WHO, with support from SPC and partners after cyclone Pam.

“Public health disease surveillance and response is an area which the Vanuatu Ministry of Health has put a sustained focus on since 2012, with technical and financial support from WHO and SPC,” Director of Public Health in Vanuatu, Len Tarivonda, said.

“Significant advances have been made to date to sustain a simple syndromic surveillance system. This training will further enhance our national capacity to detect and respond to outbreaks and other public health threats in a timely and effective manner,” he added.

The training course outlines all the critical steps necessary to investigate and manage outbreaks, from the detection to the implementation of control measures and communication of findings.

“To be effective, outbreak investigation and response must be coordinated, systematically organised and done at the most opportune time,” SPC Acting Team Leader of Surveillance and Operational Research, Onofre Edwin Merilles Jr., explained.

Participants will also receive a copy of the Pacific Outbreak Manual as a key reference document.

This manual has been developed by health experts from the Pacific Public Health Surveillance Network (PPHSN), in particular WHO, SPC and HNE, in consultation with Pacific Island countries and territories.

PPHSN partners have initiated the Pacific DDM training programme, which has been revived in 2013 in response to a call for action from Pacific Ministers of Health.

The training will run from 17 to 21 October.

Media contact:

Christelle Lepers, SPC Surveillance Information and Communication Officer, christellel [at] (christellel[at]spc[dot]int) or +687 26 01 81