The UK-Public Health Rapid Support Team is a key worldwide companion in infectious illness outbreak detection, prevention, preparedness and response; operational analysis; and capability strengthening.
The workforce companions with low- and-middle revenue international locations to help efficient response to outbreaks earlier than they turn into international well being emergencies, and are in a position to deploy groups of public well being specialists over a variety of technical disciplines to outbreak areas inside 48 hours.
That is an revolutionary partnership between the UK Well being Safety Company and the London Faculty of Hygiene & Tropical Medication, funded with UK support by the UK Division of Well being and Social Care.
New director Dr Ed Newman displays on the historical past of the UK Public Well being Fast Help Group, its relevance in a post-COVID world and his plans for its future.
From the start
Since its inception in 2016, the UK Public Health Rapid Support team (UK-PHRST) has labored tirelessly to offer efficient help to low- and-middle revenue international locations (LMICs) in outbreak response. The UK-PHRST, which attracts on a gifted and multi-disciplinary workforce of public well being specialists from throughout a variety of disciplines and backgrounds, will be deployed to affected areas inside 48 hours.
The UK-PHRST was shaped within the wake of the 2014-2015 West Africa Ebola outbreak to help low- and-middle revenue international locations to arrange, detect and reply to illness outbreaks earlier than they turn into international well being emergencies.
It’s truthful to say that COVID-19 has confirmed the workforce’s mandate essential – viruses can and do transfer unpredictably and at nice velocity. Infectious illnesses are usually not constrained by borders, and nobody is secure till all of us are secure.
I’m honoured and excited to be the director of the UK-PHRST at a time when there may be a lot work to be carried out. Having spent most of my profession concerned in outbreak response and international public well being, it is a actual spotlight for me and an excellent alternative to attract on my earlier expertise in management and as a virologist.
The UK-PHRST have had many successes within the final six years, and I would like us to construct and develop on these. As outlined in our new strategic framework, there may be nonetheless scope for us to enhance the affect of our deployments. This consists of reviewing and bettering how we deploy in order that we will help our companions higher and reply to multiple emergency at a time.
From a analysis perspective, we can be seeking to deal with key priorities which were recognized and more and more co-developed with companions, and additional strengthen our analysis capability within the low-and-middle-income international locations we work with.
We may even look to formalise and develop the capability strengthening work we do with our companions to make sure we make significant and sustainable enhancements to public well being emergency and response workforces in companion organisations.
To realize all this, we are going to work carefully with our companions world wide to determine their wants and the way we will greatest help them in a approach that’s sustainable within the long-term.
The continued COVID-19 pandemic has remained the largest fast well being risk within the final 12 months.
In 2021, the workforce deployed an epidemiologist and microbiologist by way of the International Outbreak Alert and Response Community (GOARN) below the World Well being Group (WHO) in Cambodia to assist enhance the nation’s testing and surveillance capability to the Omicron variant.
Our work in the previous few months has not began and ended with the pandemic, nevertheless. In June 2022, UK-PHRST deployed to numerous West, Central and East African international locations to help actions in response to Yellow Fever outbreaks, together with the deployment of a case administration knowledgeable to Burkina Faso for six weeks to enhance the effectiveness and high quality of medical care.
The breadth of our outbreak response help through the years, together with Lassa fever, meningitis, pneumonic and bubonic plague, and acute watery diarrhoea has emphasised that epidemics don’t look forward to the pandemic to finish. Infectious illnesses in addition to COVID-19 proceed to threaten international well being safety for LMIC populations, which is mirrored within the variety of labor the workforce has delivered up to now. Just lately, epidemiologists had been deployed to help Slovakia and Czech Republic in stopping and making ready for COVID-19 and different public well being challenges that posed a risk as a big variety of individuals fled the conflict in Ukraine to neighbouring international locations.
As I write this message, we’ve got a specialist in An infection Prevention Management from the UK-PHRST in Uganda supporting GOARN and the response to the continuing Ebola outbreak ongoing, whereas different members of our workforce are able to be deployed as requested.
This newest outbreak of Ebola in Uganda and our response to it presents beneficial perception into how we will present speedy help at brief discover when requested while persevering with a full programme of ongoing work in/with different UK support eligible international locations. Our technique is underpinned by three ideas: studying, partnerships and affect. Increasing our horizons in all three of those areas will enable us to extend international capability and guarantee a extra coordinated worldwide response to outbreaks internationally that have an effect on the well being and wellbeing of everybody.
The UK Public Well being Fast Help Group will take these ambitions ahead by constructing and sustaining equitable partnerships with the low- and middle-income international locations we work with.
Offering help just isn’t a one-way dialog – we depend on studying from our companions and leveraging their experience to make a sustainable affect that stops infectious illnesses that may have such detrimental results on our lives and livelihoods from spreading, so bettering the well being safety of us all.