Community Emergency Readiness: Three communities in Eastern Region to pilot simulation exercise


Three communities in the Eastern Region have been selected to pilot a simulation to improve community readiness for preventing, detecting, and responding to disease outbreaks.

Lack of community involvement in health and emergencies has resulted in significant loss of lives.

With more than 100 health emergencies yearly, the African Region bears about 70% of all health emergencies globally, mainly resulting from infectious disease outbreaks and other hazards.

Ghana in particular has experienced a number of outbreaks over the past two years in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. These include Lassa fever, Yellow Fever, Marburg Virus Disease, Mpox etc. The need for strong and resilient systems to rapidly detect and respond to these events for timely control or mitigation of the impact, cannot be over-emphasized.

The pilot community readiness exercise aims to enhance emergency detection and response capabilities by involving community leaders, health professionals, and volunteers.

The team will evaluate current emergency preparedness and response plans, identify any inadequacies, and work on enhancing community capacities.

The Director of Public Health at the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Franklyn Asiedu- Bekoe said emergencies often originate and end within a community, emphasizing the crucial role of community involvement in health emergencies.

He was speaking during an engagement with participants and development partners from the World health organization (WHO).

‘‘Something happens in a community, and they are unable to detect, and it spreads so the idea is that WHO is coming out with a model, and it wants to use Ghana as an example. So, in Ghana we chose the Eastern Region because they have reasonably a stronger surveillance system that we think we can use to simulate the exercise and that’s why we are here,’’ he said.

The exercise’s outcome according to the WHO country representative is expected to be shared with other sub-region countries to enhance community emergency preparedness based on the Ghana experience.

‘‘Ghana is the first country globally that is trying out this exercise of identifying how we can build the capacity of communities to respond to emergencies. From this exercise, we will then be able to put in place programmes that will develop capacities of the communities across Ghana and in so doing makes Ghana safer from protracted emergencies. Then also, it will be used as a model for community emergency readiness across the sub-region’’.

The participants say they are fully committed to the cause.

In this simulated environment, they will be navigating through scenarios designed to assess community readiness for public health emergencies in the face of potential disease outbreaks.

This tabletop exercise will also provide a unique opportunity to identify strengths, gaps and priorities for community readiness and begin the process to address areas for improvement.

By Sarah Apenkroh