Better collaboration for a safer mass gathering during the 3rd World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan

WHO/Almazbek Sartbaev

Over 30 senior managers from Kyrgyzstan’s national health and other line ministries participated in a WHO capacity-building training on mass gatherings on 26–30 May 2018. They aimed to strengthen national preparedness in order to minimize health risks during the 3rd World Nomad Games, set to take place in Kyrgyzstan on 2–8 September 2018.

The Games are expected to bring over 3000 athletes from more than 80 countries to compete in 37 types of traditional nomadic sports disciplines. In addition, more than 2000 volunteers are expected to be recruited for the event.

Mass gatherings can potentially generate greater health risks. For this reason, WHO provides advice and technical support to Member States that are hosting mass gatherings during international high-level sporting events. For example, WHO recently provided health advice to travellers going to the 2018 Winter Olympics and is currently assisting with the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Strengthening capacity of national authorities

The main goal of the training was to ensure that the Games will be safe from public health risks by preventing and/or minimizing the risk of injury and maximizing safety for all participants.

“We appreciate that WHO conducted this capacity-building training to advance our professional skills and improve our coordination and preparedness for the Games in order to hold the Games at the best possible organizational level,” emphasized Soyuzbek Nadyrbekov, one of the participants.

The training was also devoted to strengthening overall health system preparedness, intersectoral coordination and the capacities of the national health and other line ministries under the International Health Regulations (2005). Participants received an introduction to mass gatherings and the following cross-cutting themes:

  • event context and risk assessment;
  • the International Health Regulations;
  • command, control, coordination and communication;
  • incident and outbreak response management;
  • health promotion and public information;
  • surveillance and alert systems; and
  • environmental health, disaster preparedness and event medical services.

Better coordination and an action plan

Participants learned about basic WHO concepts of mass gatherings and the health challenges associated with them, and discussed the organizational components of the Games. They learned that coordination between health authorities and other line ministries is a key prerequisite for the successful management of health and health-related aspects of mass gatherings.

As a result, participants drafted a preparedness action plan for the Games during a separate 1-day workshop organized by the WHO Country Office in Kyrgyzstan. The action plan addresses priority needs, coordination mechanisms and activities to strengthen emergency preparedness.

WHO will continue to increase the capacities of national health and other line ministries by conducting additional trainings in the coming months.

These activities were supported by technical assistance and financial support from WHO in accordance with the biennial collaborative agreement for 2018–2019 between the Ministry of Health of Kyrgyzstan and WHO, and WHO Health Emergencies Programme assessed contributions.