From 27 to 29 March, the EAC Secretariat convened a regional stakeholders meeting for the third phase of the Support to Pandemic Preparedness in the EAC Region (PanPrep) Project in Entebbe, Uganda. The meeting was attended by experts and stakeholders from the EAC Partner States as well as regional and international partners, private sector, civil society and representatives of government ministries, departments and agencies. It aimed at refining activity areas of the project and kick-starting its implementation – mostly focusing on food safety.
On behalf of Dr Anna Rose Ademun Okurut, the Chief Veterinary Officer of Uganda, Dr Theophilus Mwesige noted that inclusion of food safety in the PanPrep project was very timely because of the growing importance of food safety issues in the region. Further, Mr Burkard Koemm, the PanPrep Project Manager summarised some of the achievements of previous project phases that include the development of the Regional Risk and Crisis Communication Strategy and SOPs as well as the development of the EAC Risk and Crisis Communication web portal which is currently being populated.
Stakeholders were sensitized on issues of food safety and control of disease outbreaks, and the upcoming situational analysis study. Among other things, the participants developed criteria for identification of Border Posts Ports of Entry and Exit (POEs) that will be covered by the project and drafted a road map for the development the veterinary inspection guidelines and/or SOPs for the animal source foods in EAC.
Dr. Eric Nzeyimana, Head of Health at EAC Secretariat, observed that the meeting was important because it contributed to achieve the Directive of the Sectoral Council of Ministers of Health. “The Ministers want to make sure that before any project is implemented, there is extensive consultation with stakeholders and a blessing of the Sectoral Council”, he stated.
The first phase of PanPrep started on March 1, 2017 and ended on August 31, 2019. Its second phase started on September 1, 2019 and ended on August 31, 2022. Phase 3 commenced in September 2022 and will end in August 2025. The project is implemented by GIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development and supports the EAC Secretariat in strengthening its advisory and coordinating role for the Partner States in Pandemic Preparedness. During his remarks, Dr. David Balikowa on behalf of the EAC Department of Agriculture and Food Security, informed the meeting that the German Government through GIZ has been supporting EAC Secretariat to institutionalise One Health policy and practice in the EAC and this is also reflected in the way the PanPrep Project is implemented.
Find more information on the PanPrep project here.