Arusha — Heads of state in the East African Community (EAC) will meet later this month for their first-ever engagement to address health issues in the bloc.
At the Kampala retreat in Uganda, the EAC leaders will deliberate on how to widen regional integration on the health sector as well as infrastructure funding and development.
Themed 'Deepening and Widening Regional Integration in Infrastructure and Health Sector Development in EAC Partner States,' the summit will bring together Tanzania's John Magufuli, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and their Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya and South Sudan counterparts, Paul Kagame, Pierre Nkurunzinza, Uhuru Kenyatta and Salva Kiir, respectively.
EAC Secretariat Head of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Department Owora Othieno said here yesterday that preparations for the summit are in high gear.
With the 'One People, One Destiny' motto, health care in EAC partner states comprises hospitals at district, provincial and national levels as well as health centres and dispensaries at lower levels.
Non-govern mental organisations and private investors also provide similar services. Mr Othieno said the envisaged retreat is expected to stimulate infrastructure and health development through funding commitments, political support to flagship projects, Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements and development of roadmap for projects' execution.
The regional leaders will build consensus on regional health investment priorities for Universal Health Coverage and Sustainable Development Goals. They will mobilise investments for identified health projects and revitalise the regional partnerships and linkages for improved health outcomes in the EAC states.
The imminent gathering is reportedly the first and biggest ever event for EAC Heads of State on health. The summit was proposed by the 12th Sectoral Council on Health in June 2016 and adopted by the EAC Council of Ministers in April 2017.
The retreat programme includes infrastructure and health sector international exhibition from November 28 to 29, at Speke Resort. The Exhibition will offer platform for players in health and infrastructure sectors to showcase new products, services and latest innovations.
Exhibitors will include manufacturers and dealers in pharmaceutical and medical technologies, health insurance providers, regional centres of excellence for healthcare, reference laboratories and traditional/alternative medicine producers.
The EAC has been seeking to undertake joint action towards prevention and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases and to control pandemics and epidemics of communicable and vector-borne diseases that might endanger the health and welfare of the residents of the community and cooperating in facilitating mass immunisation and other public health community campaigns.
The frequent population movement across borders of the six countries poses risk of disease spread in the region. The recent growth in regional trade and travel in East Africa has increased the risk of disease epidemics involving more than one country.
The re-establishment of the EAC in 1999 provides room for increased collaboration in disease surveillance, epidemic control and prevention.