To ensure that countries are better prepared to face future health emergencies at sea and their points of entry, WHO organized a 2-part train-the-trainers programme for experienced ship sanitation inspectors of countries from the WHO Eastern Mediterranean and European regions.
he WHO offices for both regions implemented the training in collaboration with the Country Health Emergency Preparedness and IHR programme of WHO headquarters and the WHO Collaborating Centre for the International Health Regulations: Points of Entry, at the University of Thessaly, Greece.
Explaining the benefits of the training programme, Dr Barbara Mouchtouri, Associate Professor of Hygiene and Epidemiology, from the WHO Collaborating Centre said:
This new 2-phased training approach was introduced by WHO for facilitating not only knowledge exchange, but also expanding the network of trainers, encouraging knowledge transfer and contributing to Member States’ efforts to prevent international public health risks in maritime transport. International cooperation among officers inspecting ships sailing internationally is essential since they share common goals and require the same competency frameworks, and it ensures that ship inspections are performed using common standards
In accordance with the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005), owners of ships sailing in international waters are required to renew their ship sanitation certificates every 6 months, declaring that their ships pose no public health threat to their crew, passengers, cargo or ports of call.
These certificates provide internationally recognized documentation regarding the hygiene and sanitary conditions of a ship, which supports the international movement of goods, helps to standardize the inspection process and allows for the uniform and easily comprehensible communication of risks.
Twelve experienced ship sanitation inspectors from 9 countries were selected to take part in the training, which consisted of 2 intensive face-to-face sessions, first in Tangier, Morocco, in July 2022 and then in Piraeus, Greece, in October. The content for the course was based on WHO’s “Handbook for inspection of ships and issuance of ship sanitation certificates” and included practical inspections of different kinds of ships.
Following completion of the course, participants were then assessed through a practical inspection of a ship in Piraeus, Greece, together with a written exam.
After this rigorous test of their acquired knowledge, the successful participants now get to be included in the regional and global roster of trainers on inspection of ships and issuance of ship sanitation certificates.
Dr Nidia Maria García Marín, Head of Foreign Health of Santa Cruz de Tenerife port, Spain, was one of the participants who successfully completed the programme.
These 2 trainings were extremely useful for my work, including the knowledge exchange with international colleagues. Returning from the first training course, I have already started to brief and share my new knowledge with colleagues