Supporting Pandemic Preparedness in the EAC Region
In a nutshell
East Africa often experiences outbreaks of communicable diseases such as ebola, cholera, avian flu and rift valley fever, that claim lives and destroy livelihoods. Most of these diseases are so-called ‘zoonoses’, which refers to diseases that are transmitted from animals to human beings. These diseases not only lead to healthcare crises, but also negatively impact on water, sanitation and hygiene, and animal health.
Operating from Tanzania, EPOS is working with a team of experts to support the international health community’s ‘One Health’ approach, which combats these pandemics from a holistic perspective. This means that it views humans, animals, the environment and health as an integrated system that also has interrelated health risks.
As was recently demonstrated by ebola, these zoonoses can spread incredibly fast; from local incidences they can snowball to having impact at an international and even global level. EPOS is supporting the Secretariat of the East African Community (EACS) with developing not only a contingency plan for epidemics, but also a regional approach to risk and crisis communication.
These ambitions for the Pandemic Preparedness Project build on a multifaceted structure that strives to both institutionalise the One Health approach into technical working groups and training institutions, as well as operationalise regional pandemic preparedness plans.
Another concrete output that will be realised at the end of the project include a database on interdisciplinary health data and a virtual platform for knowledge exchange. As we are a firm believer in building the capacities of local staff, EACS personnel will also be trained in key skills such as surveillance, diagnosis, and risk assessment of zoonotic diseases. This, in turn, will feed into well-functioning early warning systems.
Together, we hope to strengthen transboundary disease control and boost pandemic preparedness in the East African Community.