Ebola Vaccine Preparedness Initiative: preparing the healthcare workforce for vaccination related activities through capacity building in Central, West & East Africa

January 2022

The Ebola Vaccine Preparedness Initiative work, which began early this year, is being led by Dr Christine Chege and Dr David Githang’a who are both ardent advocates for immunization. The work focuses on building capacity of healthcare workers through trainings on a spectrum of immunization related activities and actual immunization exercise for the Ebola virus disease. The trainings are being conducted for health workers in Central, East and West Africa. The trainings focus on Ebola virus epidemiology and pathogenicity, prevention and treatment, viral vaccine technologies as well as Ebola vaccines research. Trainings are being conducted virtually through webinars and materials shared on a web-based platform hosted by Keprecon.

Ebola virus disease is a severe viral bleeding illness first described in 1976 in Central Africa. It is associated with high death rates of up to 90% if left untreatet. Ebola is now regularly found in parts of  Central and West Africa and causes outbreaks from time to time with the latest outbreak reported having occured between 2013-2016 and had close to 30000; probable, suspected and confirmed cases with about 11000 deaths. This outbreak broke borders and resulted in export of cases to other parts of the world. The outbreak was declared as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on 8th August 2014. Ebola is

Ebola is highly contagious and is mainly transmitted through direct human to human contact or contact with infected tissues, bodily fluids or contaminated fomites, as such infection prevention control measures are the mainstay in preventing transmission of the virus. These measures have proved inadequate in high disease burden areas that are often encumbered by humanitarian crises, conflict and fragile health systems. Traditional rituals of handling the sick and burial practices contribute greatly to spread as many societies are unwilling to relinquish these rituals for safer practices as recommended by health authorities. Therefore, preparing countries for effective introduction of Ebola vaccination in all age groups according to indication and recommendation through capacity building of National Immunization Technical Advisory Groups (NITAGs) chairs, members and National Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI) managers will be central in ensuring that the disease is contained.

Introduction of such vaccines should be preceded by a well-developed introduction plan and schedule including a robust training schedule for healthcare workers and personnel involved in vaccine handling and administration. Therefore, the Ebola Vaccine Preparedness Initiative is currently running a training programme to address the different steps of vaccine introduction from decision-making to administration of the Ebola Vaccine. The initiative is being implemented by Keprecon that has experience and skills as well as partnerships in implementing these types of programs.