Central Africa: African Health Ministers Move to Halt Ebola Threat

Travellers are screened for the Ebola virus before getting into Kenya at the Busia One Stop Border Post on June 12, 2019, following three confirmed cases in Kasese, western Uganda.
22 October 2019

Health Ministers and senior immigration officials of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the nine neighboring countries to DRC have resolved and committed their governments to establish the African Ebola Coordination Task Force (AfECT) to undertake cooperation and collaboration for Ebola preparedness and response.

During a ministerial meeting on cross boarder collaboration to prepare for and respond to the Ebola Virus disease in DRC on Monday, different health officials resolved that there is need for the force to support cross boarder joint planning and implementation of Ebola preparedness and response activities.

"Establish the AfECT hosted at the African Union secretariat in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the leadership of the nine member states with support from Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), WHO and other relevant partners to support the cooperation and collaboration," Communique reads in part.

Dr Ruth Jane Aceng the Health Minister said this task force will bring on board coordinated support to countries suffering outbreaks.

"Another resolution is to establish the AfECT. Now this task force will have political oversight over outbreaks like Ebola while WHO maintains technical capacity and advice that it gives to the countries," Dr Aceng said.

She added, "we embrace this aspect of avenue in African Ebola coordination task force so that all partners that are supporting the country that has an outbreak are well coordinated and it will help us avoid waste of resources."

Health officials who gathered in Goma DRC Congo to discuss the threat of Ebola have resolved to step up measures to minimize the spread of deadly disease.

Some of the other issues the health ministers resolved and committed their governments to do include cross boarder Ebola case and laboratory surveillance, cross border tracing and monitoring contacts among others.

Some of the nine countries neighboring DRC include, Angola, Burundi, Uganda, Zambia, among others.

Ebola broke out in eastern DRC last August and has killed more than 1,800, according to the World Health Organisation.

Uganda has had episodes of Ebola outbreaks in the past, which were all relatively controlled. In June, Ebola patients from DRC crossed into Kasese District, where three died.

Ugandan officials subsequently discharged and repatriated the other recovering patients back to Congo. Health ministry officials say they have received 760 Ebola alerts this year, which all turned out negative.

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