THE HAGUE, Netherlands—2 March 2022—Experts from the East African Community (EAC) improved emergency management capacity during a course conducted by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) from 22 to 24 February 2022.
The course titled “Emergency Toxicology for Receiving Medical Facilities in Africa” was conducted in collaboration with Advanced Hazmat Life Support (AHLS) of the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center in the United States.
The course was aimed at hospital managers and clinicians from across the EAC to address institutional preparedness and shore-up clinical expertise in advanced toxicology, as these areas have been identified as a common need in in the region.
The training focussed on enhancing the capabilities of medical facilities handling a chemical incident and covered the general principles of emergency planning, patient reception, and decontamination treatment protocols. This project is part of the fifth phase of the Programme to Strengthen Implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention in Africa, more commonly known as the Africa Programme.
During his opening remarks, course facilitator and Professor of Emergency Medicine, Frank G. Walter stated: “The University of Arizona is committed to working with OPCW to strengthen chemical safety and emergency preparedness in Africa.”
The Head of the OPCW’s Assistance and Protection Branch underlined: “Strengthening the capacity of hospitals in Africa to respond to chemical incidents is an integral part of building strong regional response capabilities against the threat of chemical weapons. This is a key objective of the OPCW’s Africa Programme.”
Participants enhanced their knowledge of chemical warfare agents, the theoretical aspects of hazardous materials including insecticides, corrosives, irritant gases, asphyxiants, hydrocarbons, and substituted hydrocarbons and chemical, agents. Specific antidotes and their indications, contraindications, dosing, and route are also included, as well as decontamination and treatment techniques used during chemical incidents.
The online course was funded by a voluntary contribution from the United States of America and was attended by 16 participants representing the following five OPCW Member States in EAC: Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, and Rwanda.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW, with its 193 Member States, oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997, it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
Over 99% of all declared chemical weapon stockpiles have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.