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EAC and Health

The EAC Secretariat is mandated to offer advisory and coordination support to its Partner States, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda in the prevention of and response to outbreaks of infectious diseases of public health concern. In the past, the EAC region has experienced numerous outbreaks of infectious diseases. Most of the pathogens are endemic in the region and pose a constant health risk. The COVID-19 pandemic clearly showed how quickly new pathogens that could emerge anywhere in our globalised world can spread to the region and jeopardise public health, economic stability and the livelihoods of citizens. The spread of infectious diseases is promoted by migration and transboundary trade, which is facilitated by the EAC common market, by tourism and by the impacts of climate change. To prevent and combat outbreaks of infectious diseases of public health concern, Partner States need to be prepared.

EAC-GIZ SUPPORT

Pandemic Preparedness and One Health


The Ebola epidemic in West Africa revealed major gaps that accelerated the rapid spread of the disease. Two of them were the lack of rapid, clear and efficient communication tailored to the population with its specific cultural and social backgrounds and the lack of close cooperation across sectors and between disciplines. The latter is especially important as more than two thirds of infectious diseases of epidemic potential are zoonoses, which can be transmitted between animals and humans as experienced with the COVID-19 pandemic and its severe impact on human health, the economy and society. To this end, a multisectoral and multidisciplinary approach, regional strategies and skills are needed that are lacking in the EAC. Since 2017, EAC and EAC-GIZ have cooperated in the health sector. When disease outbreaks with epidemic potential are detected early on and measures are taken more rapidly, everyone living in the EAC Partner States benefits. Often, the poor rural population is hardest hit by the impacts of epidemics, since they lack the knowledge and financial means to recognise health risks and protect themselves effectively. Many times, they have only limited access to health services and effective treatments and thus benefit particularly from the support measures of the EAC Secretariat.

Projects:

Objective: The health of the people in the EAC is improved.

Approach: PanPrep involves stakeholders from the EAC Partner States in all its activities. Capacity development measures are designed to ensure that the acquired skills promote the countries’ systems and cross-border cooperation in the long term. The regional approach aims to create structures and capacities relevant for all EAC Partner States to facilitate a uniform, effective, responsible and balanced approach in pandemic preparedness at regional and national government levels.

The project builds capacities and competences at institutional, individual and community level. It supports mainstreaming of the One Health approach in the EAC region and institutionalises risk and crisis communication at the EAC Secretariat with the objective of empowering citizens to take informed decisions related to existing or emerging risks. The application of the One Health approach facilitates a common response across sectors and disciplines which contributes to utilising synergies and accommodating different legitimate interests to ease the social and economic effects of events of public health concern.

PanPrep supports the development of political framework documents and of Standard Operating Procedures to facilitate their implementation. The project assesses regional and national response capacities and the status of implementation of the International Health Regulations in cross-border simulation exercises and promotes cross-border response activities and harmonisation of national contingency plans and capacities with regional strategies. The project facilitates the Africa-wide exchange of experiences in pandemic prevention and control and the development

Find more information on PanPrep here.

RESULTS OF HEALTH

The regional plan for prevention and response to infectious disease outbreaks enables a standardised approach to outbreaks of infectious diseases of public health concern and harmonises measures at the regional and national levels
250 staff from various sectors were trained as trainers on COVID-19 preparedness and response at 8 international airports in the EAC region
The Eastern African Network of AIDS and Health Organisations developed the EAC Digital Travel Companion, an app that maps out essential health services
Creative DNA developed ClinicPesa, a health-saving scheme that enables EAC citizens to save money which can be used to offset their medical bills in time of need at any registered healthcare facility within the East African region

SECTORS