THE East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has adopted a report of the Committee on General Purpose on the oversight activity assessing levels of preparedness of partner states in management of epidemics, particularly Ebola and Dengue.
The House reiterated the need for the East African Community (EAC) Council of Ministers to develop a bloc's policy on management of communicable diseases in the region and to strengthen collaborative engagement with key stakeholders.
It took the action as the region discharges all its arsenal and explores modalities of con taining the Ebola and Dengue viruses that are life-threatening.
In effect, the Assembly wants further collaboration with stakeholders such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the German Technical Co-operation (GiZ ) to enhance oversight in the promotion of the health sector in the region.
The assessment took place in Rwanda and Uganda, between September 12-16, 2019.
Tanzania requested for a new date for the exercise, according to a letter tabled in the House and confirmed by Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and EAC Cooperation, Dr Damas Ndumbaro.
Chair of the Committee on General Purpose Committee, Mr Abdikadir Aden, presented the report to the House, affirming that three other partner states, B urundi, Kenya and South Sudan, are also targeted in the next oversight activity.
The report was tabled on October 3rd this year during the First Meeting of the Third Session held in Arusha.
The principal objective of conducting the oversight activity was to assess the level of preparedness of the EAC partner states in managing and containing Ebola and Dengue fever epidemics and to explore possible sustainable interventions to combat them.
The Committee took the initiative to get briefs on the Ebola and Dengue epidemics/pandemics and the progress made in controlling and managing the same; assessing challenges and ascertaining existence of any specific bilateral or international engagements/ interventions to combat the epidemics.
The oversight activity further sought to establish the impact and effects of the said epidemics on the economies and welfare of the citizens of EAC.
Under Article 117 of the Treaty for the establishment of the EAC, partner states give a commitment to co-operate in, among others, health activities within the Community.
The report further cites various interventions undertaken by Rwanda and Uganda to contain the diseases.
The House was informed of interventions made through a multi-sectoral approach and such include development of a contingency plan for Ebola preparedness and response.
It is also made through the National Disaster Management Committee made up of ministers in charge of emergency who advise and co-ordinate relief efforts in Rwanda.
In Uganda, the House heard of enhanced capacity building in surveillance and contact tracing and the effective use of community- based disease surveillance approach.
"Over seven million have been screened at ground points of entry; with the Entebbe Airport recording screening of 225,804 ... each partner state has had at least two notable disease outbreaks in every five-year cycles between 2000 and 2019. Examples of outbreaks include Rift V alley Fever, Ebola, Marburg, Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fevers and Y ellow Fever," a section of the report reads.
According to the chairperson, it took Kenya and Tanzania six months to contain the 2006 Rift V alley Fever (RV F) outbreaks.
The region and neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo have also experienced several outbreaks of the Ebola V irus Disease (EV D).
"In January 2017, a B ird Flu outbreak was reported along the shores of Lutembe bay (Lake V ictoria) in Uganda. In October 2017, a Marburg Fever outbreak was reported in Eastern Uganda, Kween district, close to the Kenyan border with one confirmed fatality", the report added.