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Togo: Meningitis epidemic - Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) n° MDRTG006 DREF Operation Update No. 1

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Situation Report
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This Operations Update requests an extension of time frame of one month (New end date: 30 June 2016) to enable the completion of the lessons learnt workshop, which will be used to enable the documentation of good practices, challenges and recommendations for future response in Togo and by other National Societies in the Africa Region. The DREF operation will end on 30 June 2016, and a final report will be made available on 30 September 2016 (three months after the end of the DREF operation).

A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

Since December 2015, Ghana has been affected by new strain of meningitis outbreak - Pneumococcal Meningitis caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, which is both contagious and fatal.
The meningitis outbreak spread from Ghana to Togo, starting in the Kara region, in the district of Dankpen before moving on to the western border district of Bassar. Following investigations in the district of Dankpen, it was identified that the causal agent was Neisseria meningitides W135. This strain of meningitis is rare and has common signs and symptoms similar to that of Cerebro-Spinal Meningitis. At that it was noted that the epidemic was expanding to other areas, not only in the districts of Kara region but also to neighbouring areas. There was also a cross border risk of spread of cases to other countries in West Africa, in Ghana, potentially Cote d’Ivoire and beyond due population movement and unrestricted borders.

Epidemiological data from the Ministry of Health (MoH) indicated that by 18 April, 2016 the cumulative numbers of cases recorded was 1,760 with 121 deaths. Three districts in Kara region were affected: Asoli, Doufeljou and Keran. The MoH and WHO had planned the third vaccination campaign in three worst affected districts. The Red Cross was given responsibility to mobilise the communities and especially mothers with their children for vaccinations. By the end of April 2016 it was noted that the number of new cases had reduced to minimal levels and the outbreak was no longer a threat to human lives. There was strong and close collaboration with the Catholic Relief Service in the implementation of activities planned. It was noted that at the border areas Ghana was not implementing any activities only Togolese Red Cross volunteers were conducting activities. Hence it was difficult to have cross border activities as was planned. The Ghana Red Cross did not have resources to implement cross border activities. This was a missed opportunity to implement cross-border activities between the two National Societies which could have provided an opportunity to learn some lessons for the future operations.

On 25 February 2016, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) released CHF 178,079 from the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the Togolese Red Cross Society (TRCS) reduce the immediate risks of meningitis to the health of the affected populations, through social mobilization and awareness raising campaigns, targeting a total at-risk population of 1,747,000 people (291,200 families) living in the Kara region and neighbouring Central and Savannas regions. Following the release of the DREF allocation, the National Society (NS) with the support of the IFRC Abuja country cluster office, has made progress with all activities planned completed with the exception of the lessons learnt workshop. This Operations Update requests an extension of time frame of one month (new end date: 30 June 2016) to enable the completion of the lessons learnt workshop, which will be used to enable the documentation of good practices, challenges and recommendations for future response in Togo and by other National Societies in the Africa Region. The DREF operation will end on 30 June 2016, and a final report will be made available on 30 September 2016 (three months after the end of the DREF operation).

The major donors and partners of the DREF include the Red Cross Societies and governments of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the USA, as well as DG ECHO, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) the Medtronic and Zurich Foundations and other corporate and private donors. The IFRC, on behalf of the Togolese Red Cross Society would like to extend many thanks to all partners for their generous contributions.

Please refer to the original Emergency Plan of Action for further information on the DREF operation – the “Operational Strategy” and “Operational support services” remains unchanged.