Human mobility across countries has been one of the main vectors that facilitated the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the world, and many of the confirmed COVID-19 cases in the EAC region have also had a history of travel. After staff at international airports and border posts in the EAC region was trained as trainers on preparedness and response measures to COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, the first of four trainings at major harbors in the EAC region has started at the port of Mombasa, Republic of Kenya, on Monday, 8 March 2021. The trainings are convened by the East African Community Secretariat and organised and conducted by AMREF Flying Doctors (AFD) in cooperation with WHO.
They aim to build the knowledge of staff on safety measures, surveillance, prevention and control strategies and relevant regional guidelines. “AFD will offer a comprehensive Training of Trainers to enable the ports to develop their own staff training and surveillance regimes” stresses Stephen Gitau, AFD Chief Executive Officer. “This will contribute greatly toward the pillar of enhanced safety for travellers and the duty of care of Partner States towards their port staff.”
While past capacity building and awareness measures primarily focused on port health staff, this training will involve a wide range of staff with close contact to passengers and/or their luggage, such as port medical service providers, ship operators, selected crew members, staff at immigration and customs and cargo and baggage handlers among others. The training at the Mombasa port composes of two 2-day courses. Topics include “the port as a ‘red zone’ – recognition of hot zones in the port and measures to identify and demarcate these areas”; “quarantine and isolation of passengers” and “decontamination of ships and harbor areas”.
At Mombasa, each class will have 16 participants – taking into account social distancing requirements – so that 32 key port personnel will become trained trainers and are expected to spearhead the development and conduction of targeted training sessions for the rest of the port personnel. The trained trainers will develop and conduct their own classes to roll-out their brief training sessions and AFD will support the process and monitor the progress.
The course design and curriculum development are based on the International Health Regulations and best practices of the World Health Organisation and the US Centers for Disease Control. Further ports to be trained are Zanzibar (United Republic of Tanzania), Kisumu (Republic of Kenya) and Bujumbura (Republic of Burundi).
The training is facilitated by the German Government through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in its effort to support states in their response to COVID-19. EAC-GIZ supports the EAC Secretariat in its advisory and coordinating role for the Partner States in pandemic preparedness through the Support to Pandemic Preparedness Project (PanPrep).