EAST African Community's (EAC) disease preparedness will be put to test today during a cross-border simulation exercise at the Namanga border.
Preparations for the much awaited fourday cross-border exercise which will simulate an outbreak of an infectious disease from Namanga border between Kenya and Tanzania are reportedly on top gear. Today's Field Simulation Exercise (FSX) aims at assessing the preparedness and response capacities of both the secretariat and the two EAC partner states.
The simulation workout will follow the one health approach that involves different sectors affected by an outbreak and mitigating its impact.
"Everything is going on as per plan and we expect anything between 250 people to take part in the process," said Mr Florian Mutabazi an official in the Public Relations Office at the EAC Secretariat yesterday.
According to the EAC official, up to 250 participants, primarily from the two partner states-Kenya and Tanzania-as well as from Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda, will participate in the workout.
The exercise that will take place at different sites in Tanzania and Kenya will also attract participants from regional and international institutions and organisations.
According to Mr Mutabazi, the four-day exercise seeks to assess the use of early warning and event detection mechanisms at points of entry with emphasis on the Namanga border area between Tanzania and Kenya, assess the coordination mechanisms, command and control systems and information sharing channels between multiple sectors and countries like activation of the EAC emergency structure, incident management systems and relevant emergency operations centres.
"It will also evaluate the deployment of rapid response teams, validate the activation and deployment of selected mobile laboratories and evaluate selected preparedness and response measures at the Jomo Kenyatta International airport (JKIA) and Kilimanjaro International airport (KIA)," he disclosed.
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is supporting the FSX on behalf of the German Government, while the EAC and World Health Organisation (WHO) are the technical lead in the implementation.
A number of health, agriculture, livestock, trade, tourism and wildlife, environment and natural resources ministers from the partner states as well as regional defence have also been invited to the opening ceremony, according to Mr Mutabazi.
Recently, East African region has experienced a number of outbreaks of infectious diseases, including Ebola, Rift Valley, Marburg and Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic fevers, Cholera, Polio, Anthrax and Plague.
Studies have indicated that six out of the 10 diseases are zoonotic, transmitted between animals and humans. The 11th Ordinary Meeting of the EAC Sectoral Council of Ministers of Health on March 24, 2015 directed the EAC Secretariat to conduct a cross-border simulation exercise at Namanga.