THE HAGUE, Netherlands— 9 December 2022—The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco co-organised a workshop on chemical incident preparedness for hospitals (HOSPREP), held in Rabat, Morocco from 7 to 10 November.
The workshop brought together medical and emergency response experts from African OPCW Member States at the Royal School of Paramedic Personnel Lalla Meryem in Rabat. The training centred on enhancing the capabilities of medical facilities to respond to incidents involving toxic chemicals or chemical warfare agents. In particular, the workshop delved into the principles of hospital care for patients injured by toxic chemicals as well as practical knowledge regarding facilities for managing casualties resulting from chemical exposure.
Participants also received lectures on key assistance and protection concepts such as: the provisions and obligations of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) with a focus on Article X, types of chemical agents, personal protection, contamination, detection, monitoring and incident command, and medical evacuation. The course also featured a field exercise in which the participants tested their practical skills.
Director of the Royal School of Paramedic Personnel Lalla Meryem, Colonel Major Aziz Zentar, emphasised “the importance of developing safeguards to protect against, and respond to, toxic chemical incidents at home and abroad.”
The event was attended by 32 participants from 12 OPCW Member States: Angola, Burkina Faso, Cote d’lvoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia, Rwanda, Togo, and Sudan.
HOSPREP is an institutional capacity-building initiative of the Technical Secretariat to strengthen the resilience of Member States’ medical facilities against the threat of chemical incidents. It emphasises hospital emergency preparedness through planning and prescriptive incremental change. The initiative was implemented under the Programme to Strengthen Cooperation with Africa on the Chemical Weapons Convention — known as the Africa Programme.
Under Article X of the Chemical Weapons Convention, Member States “have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, material and scientific and technological information concerning means of protection against chemical weapons.”
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.