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EAC Secretariat urges Partner States to increase risk and crisis communication measures to keep out Ebola Viral Disease

East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, 22 July 2019:  The confirmation of a fatal Ebola case in the Ituri province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) further increases the risk for the East African Community (EAC) region of the outbreak crossing the borders. The Ituri province is only 70 km from the South Sudanese border and even closer to the Ugandan border. The first three cases of Ebola in the EAC region were diagnosed in Uganda in June 2019 and triggered strong response measures by the Ugandan government. Trade is vibrant between DRC and the EAC region and can exacerbate the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) due to the high mobility of people and goods. In the light of the Public Health Emergency of International Concern declared by the World Health Organization,) Dr Michael Katende, acting Head of Health at the EAC Secretariat urges the Partner States to strongly engage the communities in the border regions and traders and trade associations in risk and crisis communication measures. “This is particularly important, as most of the border line is porous and difficult to control” says Katende, “informal and formal traders need to know the risk and be able to take informed decisions to minimise it and to actively take precautions.”

EAC Partner States have put in place precautionary measures to stop the spread of EVD into the EAC region. This includes vaccinating frontline health workers, screening all travellers at points of entry including airports and training the first responders in case of an outbreak. However, these measures might not be sufficient. Dr Michael Katende, acting Head of Health at the EAC Secretariat was especially concerned about EVD spreading into South Sudan with its still rather weak health system.

The EAC Secretariat calls upon the Partner States to increase risk and crisis communication by involving community, religious and other leaders and the media in public awareness raising. At the same time, the Secretariat calls upon traders and trade associations and those travelling across the border with DRC to take extra precaution, as the EVD threat is real:

  • All people crossing the border should cooperate with immigration, health and security officials who are conducting screening at the points of entry and should strictly follow their advice.
  • Frontline health workers and members of the affected communities should accept to be vaccinated against EVD for their own protection and to help prevent the further spread of EVD.
  • People in the affected regions should avoid unnecessary ‘body to body’ contact as this is the main way of disease transmission.
  • The public should be vigilant and immediately inform the nearest health workers when spot a person with signs of EVD which are: fever, severe headache, body weakness, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, and unexplained haemorrhage (bleeding or bruising) from various body outlets like the nose, ears and mouth. This is particularly important along the “green border” where no screening measures are in place.

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Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern

https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/17-07-2019-ebola-outbreak-in-the-democratic-republic-of-the-congo-declared-a-public-health-emergency-of-international-concern

For more information, please contact:

Mr Owora Richard Othieno
Head, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Department
EAC Secretariat
Arusha, Tanzania
Tel: +255 784 835021
Email: OOthieno [at] eachq.org

About the East African Community Secretariat:

The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation of six Partner States, comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. 

The EAC Secretariat is ISO 9001:2008 Certifie

EAC Cross-Border simulation reveals critical lessons for pandemic preparedness and response

East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, 17th June, 2019: The East African Community (EAC) Secretariat successfully concluded a three-day cross-border Field Simulation Exercise, conducted on the Kenya – Tanzania border at Namanga One Stop Border Post (OSBP), with critical results and lessons for pandemic preparedness and response.

Over 250 participants from both countries, besides those from Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda took part in the exercise. The exercise was conducted based on a scenario of an outbreak of a disease that impacts both human and animal lives and their livelihoods, including agriculture, tourism, security, trade and the economy as a whole.The exercise created an opportunity in which participants were able to identify strengths and weaknesses and facilitate practical corrective actions at all levels.

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(L-R) EAC Deputy Secretary General, Hon Bazivamo, Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, United Republic of Tanzania Hon Ummy Ali Mwalimu, Adan Abdulla Mohammed, Cabinet Secretary for East African Community & Regional Development –Kenya displaying EAC Contingency Plan 2018-2023

Cross Border Field Simulation Exercise kicks off at Namanga

East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, Tanzania 11th June, 2019: The Field Simulation Exercise (FSX) organized by the EAC Secretariat in collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the World Health Organization(WHO)  through the “Support to Pandemic  Preparedness in the EAC Region” (PanPrep) has started at  Namanga border between the Republic of Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania.

The main objective of the  four-day exercise is to assess coordination mechanisms, command and control systems and information sharing channels between multiple sectors and countries; (e.g. activation of the EAC emergency structure, incident management systems and relevant emergency operations centre.

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Addressing the challenge of cross border disease outbreaks using the ‘One Health’ Approach

East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, 21st May, 2019: The East African Community (EAC) Secretariat will convene a cross border field simulation exercise (FSX) at the Namanga border between the Republic of Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania from 11th to 14th June 2019 as directed by the EAC Sectoral Council of Ministers of Health in 2015. The FSX aims to enhance the status of preparedness for and response to infectious disease outbreaks in the EAC, thereby making the region safe for the people and businesses in the region. While the majority of the estimated 250 participants will come from the two Partner States, stakeholders from the Republics of Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda and representatives from regional, supra-regional and international institutions and organisations will also participate. Not all the participants will be at Namanga, but work from their usual work places in Dar Es Salaam and Dodoma, Arusha and Nairobi, Longido, Kajiado and in the border area. Only the EAC Secretariat will have its operations centre at the One Stop Border Post (OSBP).

Seventy-five percent of infectious diseases are transmitted between animals and humans. Outbreaks affect agriculture, trade and tourism and the lives and livelihoods of the people. Involving these sectors in prevention, response and mitigation reflects what is called the “One Health” disease management approach. The EAC region has experienced cases of Ebola, Rift Valley, Marburg and Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic fevers, Cholera, Polio and Plague among others. The current Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has so far caused over 1,600 human cases and more than 1,000 deaths, remains a major threat to the health and socio-economic wellbeing of the people of East Africa. Therefore, the region needs to be prepared and the ongoing efforts to operationalize national and regional contingency plans need to be strengthened. In this regard, the planned cross-border Field Simulation Exercise aims to strengthen the capacities of all people involved in preventing and responding to infectious disease outbreaks across different professions and sectors of society.

An FSX is an interactive instrument to evaluate the status of preparedness for and response to disease outbreaks of organisations or other entities in the EAC region. It simulates a situation under real conditions which could occur at any time. The FSX allows participants to identify strengths and weaknesses and can facilitate practical corrective actions at all levels. It will be used to assess coordination and collaboration mechanisms, emergency response deployment, logistics and administrative processes, risk and crisis communication as well as emergency management and leadership. Findings from the FSX will be used to further improve preparedness and response capacities in the EAC region and beyond.

The scenario of the exercise will mimic a cross border disease outbreak, aggravated by environmental factors and with impact on humans and animals, agriculture, trade and tourism, and the economy as a whole. Early warning, infections and deaths in animals and human beings will prompt the reporting and activation of national and regional preparedness and response mechanisms emphasising the importance of the One Health approach and of appropriate risk and crisis communication as well as cross border collaboration.

Based on the recent need to prepare EAC Partner States for Ebola due to the current outbreak in DRC, the fictitious component will feature a virus that will mutate into a pathogen that can be transmitted between humans causing severe fever and bleeding resulting in increased numbers of cases and deaths. This will help in assessing and building EAC Secretariat’s and Partner States’ capacities to prepare and respond to an Ebola-like situation.

With this press release, the EAC Secretariat informs the public and especially the communities in the border area about the exercise. Around Namanga, selected health facilities, slaughter houses and farms on both sides of the border, military and police, the media and last but not least the public will participate in the FSX. The main focus will be on the One Stop Border Post as the main crossing point for people and goods between the two countries.

Preparations for the Field Simulation Exercise are already ongoing and will be in full swing between 8th and 11th June 2019, ahead of the expected start of the FSX on 11th June 2019.

The exercise is planned and organized in a way that ensures minimal disruption of normal activities traffic at the OSPB and other simulation sites. All sites will be well marked and passengers will be informed about the exercise so that passers-by will know what is going on, when they see the military, ambulances and people in protective gear and can thus behave accordingly and contribute to the success of the exercise.

The cross-border field simulation exercise is supported by the “Support to Pandemic Preparedness in the EAC Region” project, which the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH implements on behalf of the German Government and the EAC. The World Health Organization is providing technical support throughout the planning and implementation of FSX in line with its mandate of implementing the International Health Regulations globally.

-ENDS-

For more information, please contact:

Mr Owora Richard Othieno
Head, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Department
EAC Secretariat
Arusha, Tanzania
Tel: +255 784 835021
Email: OOthieno [at] eachq.org

About the East African Community Secretariat:

The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation of five Partner States, comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. 

The EAC Secretariat is ISO 9001:2008 Certified

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RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE 7TH EAST AFRICAN HEALTH AND SCIENTIFIC
CONFERENCE
29 MARCH 2019

 
Based on the Keynotes Speech, Parallel Sessions and Symposia Presentations, the conference recommends that EAC should:

  1.  Expedite development and application of innovative approaches (such as the cross boarder health unit model) to cross boarder health, disease outbreak, preparedness and response in boarder areas while adding values to the national health system.

  2. Promote establishment of national bio banks and data repositories among the Partner States and develop a regional policy for guiding the use and security of the repositories.

  3. Urge the Partner States to participate in development, evaluation and formalization of emerging technologies intended for promoting digital health. 

  4.  Harmonisethe regional IP policy to guide development and uptake of digital health technologies.

  5. Strengthening platform for digital inclusion where communities have full access to information on surveillance and disease management.

  6. Urge the Partner States to fast track the adoption and implementation of Evidence Based Surveillance  and enhance mechanisms of sharing information and best practice.

  7. Enhance coordination and collaboration between East African countries and international Institutions involved in diseases control including African CDC.

  8.   Urge the Partner States to promote the involvement of frontline healthcare workers in the design of digital health tools to ensure readiness, for easy adoption, decreasing cost, and increased sustainability. 

  9. Develop and adopt innovative Regional PPP policies and models specific to digital health Technologies.

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East African Community
EAC Close
Afrika Mashariki Road
P.O. Box 1096
Arusha
United Republic of Tanzania

Tel: +255 (0)27 216 2100
Fax: +255 (0)27 216 2190
Email: eac@eachq.org