Laying the Foundation for Public Health Emergency Management in Botswana
Preparing for, responding effectively to, and recovering from emergencies are some of the most important functions of public health institutes. Emergencies are also one of the most pressing challenges facing Botswana’s Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Botswana Public Health Institute (BPHI). To help the country put the basic pieces in place for efficient and effective response, CDC and the International Association of National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI) are working with Botswana to conduct a Threat and Hazardous Incident Risk Assessment (THIRA), develop a public health emergency management plan, and establish an emergency operations center (EOC).
In February 2017, CDC held the first of three workshops in Botswana for MoH staff to help them better understand how to manage emergencies and organize an EOC, as well as lay the groundwork for preparing their own THIRA. One workshop participant stated that she “learned that it is very important to have a well-organized team and resources to respond to any public health threat at any time. The importance and the responsibility of the EOC was a highlight of the training – how the team members are picked and know their responsibilities in any emergency.” Another important lesson from the training, she says, was “to involve other ministry departments at the planning stage for easier assistance in times of need.”
Moving forward, the THIRA will be conducted with support from CDC and IANPHI. The THIRA will help identify the specific threats and hazards the health community faces, the likelihood of those events happening, and the resources needed to respond to those threats and hazards. This information will help Botswana develop a more comprehensive public health emergency management strategy.