News overview

GOARN members meet in London

WHO organises a workshop for members of the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network

Today, there is growing recognition that a disease outbreak can potentially represent an emergency of international public health concern. To ensure that countries have rapid access to the most appropriate resources and experts for the identification, assessment and response to public health emergencies of international importance, in 2000, WHO and partners established the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN). At their first major workshop in February in London epidemiologist Bea Vuylsteke represented the Institute of Tropical Medicine, which has been a member of GOARN for years.

GOARN has grown into an international network of over 200 technical institutions and specialist networks that works with over 600 partners worldwide. An international collaboration of first responders to acute emergencies requires a robust and co-ordinated platform through which  experts from diverse backgrounds can be deployed into an effective and functioning response team. Public Health England (PHE) and the WHO co-hosted this first major workshop of the GOARN partners to develop a coordinated programme to prepare highly-trained rapid responders for their next deployments. The meeting was attended by representatives of 20 leading institutions from around the world, working in outbreak response.

The idea of a GOARN ‘Capacity Strengthening Training Programme’ was introduced at the workshop. It is planned to consist of three parts, the first one being a basic/entry level training for which a broad “massive open online course” (MOOC) format was suggested. The discussions around the intermediate and advanced level trainings focused on the requirements for faculty, assessments and evaluation, and possible hosting institutions. Bea Vuylsteke has expressed the interest of ITM as faculty in some of the topics on outbreak investigation and control, which could also be integrated in ITM’s existing training programs.

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