The EAC Secretariat is mandated to offer advisory and coordinating support for the Partner States Burundi, 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.
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 of close cooperation between various disciplines. The latter is especially important as around two thirds of infectious diseases of epidemic potential are zoonoses, which can be transmitted between animals and humans. To this end, 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.
Objective: The health of the people in the EAC is improved.
Approach: PanPrep involves stakeholders from the EAC Partner States in all 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 Partner States’ governments’ levels.
The project mainstreams pandemic preparedness by implementing the One Health approach as well as risk and crisis communication in regional structures and develops capacities at regional level with the objective of empowering citizens to take informed decisions related to existing or newly emerging risks. The application of the One Health approach facilitates a common response across sectors, which contributes to utilising synergies and accommodating different legitimate interests, which in turn can ease the social and economic effects of outbreak. Furthermore, the project assists in the development of a post-graduate curriculum on pandemic preparedness under a One Health approach and its inclusion in syllabi of universities in the EAC region.
PanPrep supports the development of Standard Operating Procedures and tests them under real-world oriented conditions. It 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 of best practices and lessons learned and assist to establish rapid response systems.
Find more information on PanPrep here.