The EAC Secretariat has urged Partner States to increase risk and crisis communication following the confirmation of a fatal Ebola case in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and further increases the risk for the East African Community (EAC) region of the outbreak crossing the borders.
The first three cases of Ebola in the EAC region were diagnosed in Uganda in June 2019 and triggered strong response measures by the Ugandan government. Trade is vibrant between DRC and the EAC region and can exacerbate the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) due to the high mobility of people and goods.
Dr Michael Katende, acting Head of Health at the EAC Secretariat urged the Partner States to strongly engage the communities in the border regions and traders and trade associations in risk and crisis communication measures.
“This is particularly important, as most of the border line is porous and difficult to control” says Katende, “informal and formal traders need to know the risk and be able to take informed decisions to minimize it and to actively take precautions.”
EAC Partner States have put in place precautionary measures to stop the spread of EVD into the EAC region. This includes vaccinating frontline health workers, screening all travelers at points of entry including airports and training the first responders in case of an outbreak.
However, these measures might not be sufficient. Dr Michael Katende, acting Head of Health at the EAC Secretariat was especially concerned about EVD spreading into South Sudan with its still rather weak health system.
The EAC Secretariat calls upon the Partner States to increase risk and crisis communication by involving community, religious and other leaders and the media in public awareness raising. At the same time, the Secretariat calls upon traders and trade associations and those travelling across the border with DRC to take extra precaution, as the EVD threat is real