East Africa: EAC Enhances Efforts to Curb Covid-19 Spread

THE East African Community Secretariat will conduct a training of trainers at 12 One Stop Border Posts (OSBPs) to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the region.

Border Posts are high-risk areas regarding the spread of Covid-19 and other infectious diseases from one country to another, due to the movement of people, animals and goods from one country to another.

"The region has started opening its borders and space to allow movement of travellers in the region. This involves a risk as the pandemic has not yet ended," the Deputy Secretary General Productive and Social Sectors at the EAC Secretariat, Christophe Bazivamo said in a statement issued recently.

He said, to minimize this risk, the EAC has come up with the training programme for OSBPs' staff to enhance their capacity to prevent the spread of the virus and to quickly and expertly respond to infections in people who cross the border.

According to the statement, the training aims to enhance surveillance, prevention and response to the spread of Covid-19 in and out of the Partner States.

The regional organ noted that human mobility across borders has exacerbated the spread of Covid-19 within the EAC region and beyond.

"It is hence pertinent and a matter of urgency that in addition to the measures already established, all staff of various sectors at the border posts are trained in the prevention of Covid-19. This will enable them to protect themselves effectively, while engaging with people at large scale," said Mr Bazivamo.

The training programme, which is supported by the Germany government through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), is one of the key interventions of the EAC Covid-19 response plan.

The emergency intervention training will be facilitated by AMREF Flying Doctors (AFD) and will bring together about 330 staff from the OSBPs, covering all Partner States.

"AMREF Flying Doctors will offer a comprehensive training of trainers to enable the OSBPs to develop their own staff training and surveillance regimes," stated AFD Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Gitau.

"This will contribute greatly towards the pillar of enhanced safety for travellers and the duty of care of EAC and the OSBP management to their workers and border users," added Mr Gitau.

The training beneficiaries include border post stakeholders with close contact to travellers and/or their luggage, as well as to animals and goods.

This includes staff from port and animal health, customs, immigration, revenue officers, luggage handlers, clearing agents, standards officers, border security and the joint cross-border management committees.

The EAC Secretariat said by engaging sectors and professions beyond health, the project will also implement the One Health approach and develop more robust emergency management systems and procedures while at the same time facilitating border post collaboration.

It further said the training is envisaged to enhance cooperation between the trainees from both sides of the border posts and thereby strengthen regional integration and joint understanding for the needs and special requirements of each of the two Partner States.

The two-day training will be offered over a period of 12 weeks. Each class will have 16 participants, 8 from each side of the border, and will take into account social distancing requirements.

Two classes will be trained at large OSBPs and one class at the smaller ones. The training is scheduled to start at the end of September, 2020. Subsequently, the trained trainers will develop and conduct their own classes to roll-out their brief training sessions. AFD will support the process and monitor the progress.

The OSBPs where trainings of trainers are planned are: Burundi-Rwanda (Nemba/Gasenyi), Burundi-Tanzania (Kobero/Kabanga), Kenya-Tanzania (Isebania/Sirari and Lunga Lunga/Hororo), Kenya-Uganda (Malaba and Busia), Kenya-Tanzania (Namanga), Rwanda-Uganda (Gatuna/Katuna and Kagitumba/Mirama Hills), South Sudan-Uganda (Nimule/Elegu), Tanzania-Rwanda (Rusumo) and Tanzania-Uganda (Mutukula).

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