Integral Global Consulting (IGC), in collaboration with Emory University School of Medicine, has developed the multisectoral Outbreak Investigation Workshop and clinician oriented Especially Dangerous Pathogens training to expand efforts in quick diagnosis of toxicological conditions and improve coordination in response. A tabletop model is used to support clinicians, veterinarians, public health professionals, and laboratorians in connecting the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration and systems activation. These training events result in improved surveillance, increase speed of differential diagnosis and clinical symptom identification, and teach epidemiological principles that mitigate outbreaks as they arise.
In-Country Outbreak Investigation Training and Facilitation Projects
In 2020, IGC and Emory conducted the first outbreak investigation training in Istanbul, Türkiye. This training was in support of the Middle East North African Toxicology Association (MENATOX) and was a part of their annual seminar. The participants learned key skills about epidemiology and surveillance measures.
In 2021, IGC, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy Sandia National Laboratories (DOE/SNL) and Emory, was awarded a contract with the U.S. Department of State Chemical Security Program (DOS/CSP). The scope of work entails training professionals in both sectors of law enforcement and healthcare. Although the training was originally planned to be conducted in February of 2022, but due to the Omicron variant of COVID-19, it was rescheduled for 2023 at the MENATOX Conference in Abu Dhabi. 20 Iraqi participants representing the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Defense, and emergency first responders learned how to conduct an outbreak investigation training specific to organophosphate poisonings. Both the Government of Iraq (GOI) and the Kurdistan Government (KRG) collaborated throughout this engagement.
After the MENATOX conference, first responders from Baghdad Teaching Hospital conducted their individual Train-the-Trainer course with other medical professionals. This was a huge milestone for both IGC and the DOS/CSP. IGC continues its collaboration with both participants from the GOI and KRG.
IGC, Emory, and DOE/SNL will co-implement a Toxidrome Recognition Training and Chemical Incident Investigation for Turkish healthcare professionals in January 2024. Approximately 30 participants from across the country will attend the 2-day training in Istanbul.
This project will strengthen the partner government’s ability to mitigate and attribute state and non-state actor chemical attacks, including those specific to pesticides and other chemical weapons that are easily accessible to the public. Based on preliminary assessments and in conversation with partners, IGC and DOE/SNL have identified that the public can readily obtain large quantities of pesticides through the open market. This gap can facilitate the weaponization of chemicals for nefarious or broader use. Covertly orchestrated chemical weapon attacks may go unnoticed or be mistaken for routine medical complications. IGC, DOE/SNL, and Emory’s experience suggest that formal communication protocols between health professionals and law enforcement are often missing or poorly established in many countries. By improving communication between law enforcement and health professionals, this event will reduce the likelihood of attacks being misattributed to natural or accidental causes.