East African Countries Intensify Collaboration and Preparedness As Ebola Outbreak Continues in DRC

Many Ebola burial (file photo).

Entebbe, 3rd October 2018:- The on-going Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has led to intensified cross-border collaboration among East African countries on disease surveillance and emergency preparedness.

Consequently, the East African Integrated Disease Surveillance Network (EAIDSNet) has convened a three-day cross-border meeting in Entebbe, Uganda, to enhance disease surveillance, emergency preparedness and response in East Africa including DRC.

The meeting, supported by WHO, is reviewing the implementation of the cross-border disease surveillance activities and the status of emergency preparedness activities in districts bordering the DRC and the East Africa Community boundary. The meeting has provided an opportunity to create awareness among district leaders in their roles in implementing the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005).

In addition, participating countries will develop an action plan for cross-border disease surveillance and emergency preparedness and response activities with clear roles and responsibilities of the various parties involved. Participants are also expected to develop a framework for monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of action plans for cross-border disease surveillance.

Dr Issa Makumbi, who heads the Emergency Operations Center in the Ministry of Health, informed the participants about Uganda's heightened surveillance and alertness due to the Ebola outbreak in DRC. He noted that working closely with partners has been crucial to Uganda's well-established emergency preparedness response. Dr Makumbi highlighted the importance of the meeting saying, "the meeting comes at the right time when we are faced with many public health challenges as a region". He thus thanked EAIDSNet for organizing the meeting, and most importantly the participating countries. "Together, we can control and contain this outbreak", He noted.

Speaking on behalf of all partners, Dr Solomon Woldetsadik from the WHO Health Emergencies Program (WHE) highlighted the importance of emergency preparedness in the East Africa Community. He emphasized the importance of collaboration among countries to contain and control the spread of EVD in DRC and in East Africa sub-region at large.

Participants at the meeting include delegates from Burundi, DRC, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania & Uganda. Partners include Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), International Organization on Migration (IOM), Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) International, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

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