East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, Tanzania, 17th May, 2022: The East African Community (EAC), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) have officially handed over handwashing facilities to authorities in six EAC Partner States as part of efforts to strengthen cross border collaboration on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). A total of 32 such facilities have been built in high risk areas for the spread of infectious diseases in the six countries of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. The cooperation project that ended with the hand-over of these facilities also included risk and crisis communication and sensitization measures in the respective communities.
The handwashing facility at Kamanga Point of Entry in the city of Mwanza was handed over to the government of Tanzania on 14 May, 2022. This happened during a regional meeting held from 12 to 14 May, 2022 in Mwanza that brought together national authorities, experts, decision-makers, and key stockholders from across the EAC region. The meeting also aimed to identify and address gaps in strengthening cross-border preparedness and response and promote regional standards and policies in accordance with the International Health Standards (IHS).
East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, Tanzania, 6 May 2022: The East African Community Secretariat today held the first simulation exercise (SIMEX) since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic in order to strengthen preparedness and bolster response to future public health emergencies in the Partner States.
The exercise is part of a one-week regional training workshop to strengthen national capacities for exercise operations at ports of entry and is a follow up on Table Top exercise conducted in Arusha in 2018 and the cross-border field simulation exercise at the Namanga border between Kenya and Tanzania in June 2019.
The simulation exercise, taking place at Kilimanjaro International Airport in the United Republic of Tanzania, is intended to test the knowledge and skills acquired by the participants during the training workshop. The aim of the exercise is to link early warning with preparedness and response. The logistics drill includes a realistic disaster scenario which will help the participants to build skills for design and implementation of simulation exercises at national level.
Kilimanjaro International Airport Security Manager, Justine Makomondi Kisusi, confirmed that the exercise is necessary for strengthening readiness to respond to public health emergencies: “We are delighted to receive all delegates for this emergency simulation exercise, as it will help us combat future outbreaks”.
In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, in recent years, the East African Community (EAC) has experienced numerous outbreaks of infectious diseases and other events of public health concern, such as droughts and floods. In the African Region, about 100 public health events are reported annually. In the last three years, East Africa has had several disease outbreaks such as yellow fever, cholera, Rift Valley fever, Marburg virus disease, measles and Ebola. The region is also prone to natural disasters such floods, landslides and drought. The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the need to enhance public health emergency capacities at ports of entry.
To better prepare for public health emergencies, the EAC Secretariat, with support of WHO and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, conducted a training of 60 emergency response experts and officials from Burundi, Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda on management of public health emergencies at ports of entry. The participants were selected from various One Health sectors including health, environment, agriculture and animal heath, trade, tourism and defence.
Speaking during the opening ceremony, Dr David Balikowa from the East African Community noted that it is critical to keep “assessing and improving the regional health crisis response capacity and status of implementation of the International Health Regulations”. Dr Mary Stephen, the WHO Regional Office for Africa Focal Point for International Health Regulations reminded participants of the increasing occurrence of emerging and re-emerging diseases which present immense challenges to detect and contain. The Manager of the EAC/GIZ Support to Pandemic Preparedness in the EAC Region project in Arusha, Tanzania, Dr Irene Lukassowitz, agrees on the need to be prepared for future outbreaks, as “fighting for more resilient health systems can also help withstanding the shock if disaster and potential damage from emergencies”.
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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: 2015 Certified
East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, Tanzania, 25th March 2022: The EAC Secretariat urges Partner States to take appropriate steps to ensure maximum benefit from farming as the region is expected to receive normal rains over the next few months after almost two years of persistent drought in some EAC areas. This comes after the Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development has predicted normal rains over East Africa from March to May
“This is good news for the region, though the situation might differ from country to country. Expert guidance is important so that farmers are not over optimistic in case the rains end earlier than usual, but also that the opportunity is not lost,” says Hon Christophe Bazivamo, EAC Deputy Secretary General, Productive and Social Sectors.
East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, 23rd March 2022: On World Water Day, marked on the 22nd of March the United Nations recognizes the critical and multidimensional role that water plays for individuals, households, communities, governments and businesses globally.
Access to safe drinking water – a precious resource often taken for granted – is a human right. However, access to clean, affordable water remains a real challenge for many people in the East and Horn of Africa, with vulnerable groups being disproportionately affected. Beyond using it for drinking, water also plays an enormous role in preserving the health of people across the region.
East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, 10th March 2022: The East African Community Secretariat urges EAC Partner States to step up measures to prevent and respond to outbreaks of infectious diseases following heavy rains in parts of the EAC region. The recommendation follows reports of an outbreak of Yellow Fever in Kenya that has caused the death of at least three people and information on outbreaks of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) among livestock in EAC Partner States received by the EAC Secretariat.
“The heavy rainfalls and high temperatures have resulted in high numbers of mosquitos which transmit vector-borne diseases,” says EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social Sectors, Hon. Christophe Bazivamo. He has urged EAC Partner States to report such outbreaks to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as required and cautioned that the outbreaks of Rift Valley Fever might be followed by human cases if adequate measures are not taken in time. He also alled for EAC Partner States to step up disease surveillance, control, and vaccination against Yellow Fever among their citizens.
East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, Tanzania, 7th February, 2022: Experts from EAC Partner States’ National Medicines Regulatory Authorities have convened in Entebbe, Uganda to conduct a joint scientific review to assess the safety, efficacy and quality of 20 medical products.
The five-day joint assessment aims at streamlining medicines evaluation and registration procedures in an effort to enhance access to good quality, safe and efficacious medicines in the region.
East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, Tanzania, 3rd February, 2022: The EAC Integrated Health Programme (EIHP) has successfully institutionalised accountability mechanisms for health programmes, and facilitated availability of updated and credible information for health projects in the region, as well as developed key strategic and policy documents to guide integration and cooperation in health.
Speaking during the 5th Joint Steering Committee Meeting for the EIHP, EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social Sectors, Hon. Christophe Bazivamo, noted that the EAC had successfully developed the EAC Comprehensive Regional Integrated Sexual, Reproductive, Maternal, New Born Health, HIV and TB Programme 2022-2027. “This document offers a regional framework that paves way for continued cooperation on the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and HIV agenda within the Integrated Health Programme”, said Hon. Bazivamo.
East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, Tanzania, 17th December 2021: The East African Community (EAC) Secretariat is making progress in a project aimed at strengthening the capacity of EAC Partner States to prevent and control the spread of infectious diseases using hygiene measures, risk communication and community sensitization. The project targets “hotspots” in the region that have a high risk for infection transmission due to crowded living conditions and a lack of clean water as causes of poor hygiene. The Secretariat is collaborating with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in the implementation of the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) project.
Deputy Secretary General of Productive and Social Sectors, Hon. Christophe Bazivamo, recognised the progress made in establishing the handwashing facilities which cater also for children and people with disabilities: “Some of the handwashing facilities have already been completed awaiting handover to authorities and others are at various stages of construction. In addition, more than 1 million people will be reached with health and hygiene promotion initiatives, thanks to a financial support of 1.5 Million EUR from the German government.
East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, Tanzania, 22nd October, 2021: The 9th Regional Steering Committee Meeting of the EAC Regional Network of Public Health Reference Laboratories for Communicable Diseases (EAC – RNPHRL) concluded on Friday, with delegates commending the contribution of the EAC Mobile Laboratories towards regional efforts to mitigate the Covid-19 pandemic.
In his remarks, Dr. John Ndemi Kiiru, Head, Department of Laboratory Services, Ministry of Health, Republic of Kenya observed that the Mobile Laboratories project was a noble initiative that will have a great impact on the lives of the people of East Africa not only in the short term but in the long terms as well. “The Labs have facilitated the Partner States to undertake various initiatives that would have otherwise been impossible to undertake,” he added.
East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, 26th August 2021: The EAC Secretariat in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is implementing a project on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) that will strengthen the capacity of Partner States to prevent and address infectious diseases at hot spot areas in the region.
“We have secured EUR 1.5 million from the German Government for the project. The project aims at increasing awareness and enhancing health and hygiene protective behaviours and practices to prevent and respond to the spread of infectious diseases including COVID-19,” says EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social Sectors Hon. Christophe Bazivamo.