FG, WHO Graduate 82 SURGE Responders For Public Health Emergencies

The Federal Government with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO) has graduated and deployed 82 newly trained Strengthening and Utilizing Response Groups for Emergencies (SURGE) responders to respond to public health emergencies in the country.

Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire while giving his keynote address at the graduation ceremony held on Friday in Abuja, said, the training of the responders was part of the implementation of the SURGE initiative.

Dr. Osagie noted that, the SURGE initiative promotes availability of a well-equipped team within a streamlined support system able to respond to public health emergencies within the first 24 – 48 hours which fully aligns with the concept of building a resilient and sustainable health system for improved health outcomes and universal health coverage.

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He said, the initiative was a welcome intervention that could turn around the detection and response time for emergencies within the country and beyond.

The Minister explicated that, “in recognition of the challenges of emerging and re-emerging public health threats and lessons learned from past epidemics and pandemics including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, WHO AFRO developed three flagship initiatives as eloquently outlined by the WR and the RD, with focus on the SURGE initiative and five pilot countries selected for the pilot. Nigeria is one of the five countries selected and we will be implementing SURGE in all States of the Federation using a phased approach”.

He said, the lessons learned from implementation in the six Phase 1 States – Abia, Edo, FCT, Kano, Lagos and Yobe would be applied to scale up implementation in the remaining States to ensure that no State was left behind.

He disclosed that the cohort of trained SURGE Responders was made up of participants drawn from across various sectors to reflect the multidisciplinary and one-health approach for public health emergency response.

In her closing remarks, the SURGE National Coordinator (SNC), Dr. Alex Okoh expressed satisfaction with the country’s milestone in the implementation of the SURGE initiative in Nigeria.

She thanked the partners especially WHO & Africa CDC to have been greatly instrumental to the success of the SURGE initiative in Nigeria.

She said, most of the responders had demonstrated commitment, resilience, passion and ownership through the five (5) weeks training programme, she therefore, encouraged them to sustain the passion.

According to her, they had been fortified with knowledge and skills for Public Health Emergency response.

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