MOH News
120 Rapid Response Specialists to Help Handle Infectious Diseases
08 September 2015
The Ministry of Health's (MOH) Command and Control Center (CCC) has enhanced its capability of dealing with and responding to the incidents by forming rapid response teams including 120 health specialists of different specialties, covering all regions of the Kingdom. Rapid response teams will tackle reports of infectious diseases, particularly the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), in addition to providing training and qualification for the health professionals on the ways of dealing with infectious diseases in general. 

The Head of the Rapid Response Team affiliated to Riyadh Health Affairs General Directorate, Dr. Anas Bash A'yan said that these teams are also tasked with ensuring readiness of infection control departments in the medical facilities throughout the Kingdom's regions to increase its efficiency in facing any emergent infection.

Within the same vein, he maintained that these teams are working to rapidly and directly provide response on the field; provide human and material resources in coordination with the command and control centers at health affairs directorates and the MOH Headquarters, pointing out that these teams submit their reports regularly to the MOH's Command and Control Center. 

Further, he added that these teams also recommend imposing penalties on health facilities when not cooperating or implementing the proposed instructions and recommendations. In addition, the teams investigate the circumstances surrounding the case since the arrival of the patient to the emergency unit, as well as reasons for late suspicion, if any. They also keep track of the patient movement in the facility until isolation, and list all health professionals and patients who contacted the suspected or the positive case directly.

Likewise, Dr. A'yan noted that since its formation, the team has set an integrated plan to control outbreaks of diseases, in coordination with the related directors of the departments and decision makers in health facilities.     

He explained that, when it comes to the nature of their work, the CCC’s rapid response teams are classified into three levels: Team A moves immediately upon receiving a report of a suspected MERS-CoV case and after recording the details of the case at CCC and the operation room of the teams, a rapid response team in the same region is sent to handle the case urgently according to its nature. Team A is tasked with detecting suspected or positive Corona cases in facilities that haven't recorded any cases in a month; and visiting all health facilities to ensure their readiness. In addition, it provides training for the workers to fill the gaps in the infection control practices and reduce the risk of infection transmission inside the facility.

Whilst Team B is called into a situation when the facility has two suspected Corona cases in a week, provided that there are no prior cases recorded a month earlier. The team is tasked with supporting the infection control team in the facility to curb spread of the disease; working with a professional specialized in environmental health and sterilization in order to ensure the proper environmental cleaning measures are applied, especially that those measures could cause spread of infection. Team B also conducts visits for 2-3 days or more as needed.  On the other hand, the role assigned to Team C starts when there are more than two suspected Corona cases (primary cases) in the same facility in one month, or 8 secondary cases (acquired the infection from the facility) or more within a month. The team is sent to examine the facility for 5 consecutive days, during which it provides intensive training for the workers in addition to sterilizing, preparing the facility, and conducting epidemiological surveillance to find out the reasons behind the outbreak of the disease.

Dr. A'yan stated that this team includes epidemiology and surveillance specialists, in addition to the members of Team B, and that sometimes the work of the team could last for weeks according to the level of the outbreak. "The work of the team doesn't end in the facility till the end of the outbreak and completion of training for all the workers in the facility," he added.   

In conclusion, he noted that the CCC, affiliated to the Ministry of Health, is responsible for continuous control of all epidemiological diseases and the early preparation for prevention against them, as well as monitoring and following up statements on the diseases, and providing response and coordination for the rapid intervention to control such diseases upon their occurrence in order to eliminate them before their outbreak.

 



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