East African Community Partner States to have been directed to undertake standardized Covid -19 testing based on approved WHO methodologies in order to have a harmonized approach.
The call was made this weekend during a Joint consultative meeting of Partner States’ Ministers and Cabinet Secretaries responsible for Health, Trade, Transport and EAC Affairs who met via video conference.
The consultative meeting was called by Dr. Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the current Chairperson of the Council of Ministers.
This comes days after cases of cross border protests by drivers who opposed new measures introduced by Rwanda to curb the coronavirus spread.
The driver resisted the new measures, in which Tanzanian truck drivers are expected to drive the trucks up to Rusumo border post where they hand them over to their Rwandan counterparts who take the goods up to their final destination.
After Biruta’s briefing on the status of cross border trade under coronavirus, the meeting agreed to implement a sensitization programme to destigmatize truck drivers and Covid-19 recovery cases in the region.
The meeting further directed the EAC Secretariat to coordinate the activities under the sensitization programmes in the Partner States.
EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social Sector, Christophe Bazivamo, informed the Ministers that the EAC Regional Task Force has finalised a Regional Covid-19 Response Plan.
“The plan aims to among other things, ensure a joint and well-coordinated mechanism to fight COVID-19 in the region; timely access to medical therapeutics and health technologies to effectively manage the Covid-19 pandemic in the region; as well as to minimize the number of people who become infected,” Bazivamo said.
On the supply of covid-19 test kits, equipment and other supplies to the Partner States, Bazivamo said that through the EAC Network of Public Health Reference Laboratories for Communicable Diseases (Mobile Lab Project) had received a grant of €500,000 to support the strengthening of laboratory capacity for Covid-19 response in the Partner States.
“The funds were intended to purchase and supply adequate tests to facilitate scale-up of testing in East Africa (1,000 COVID-19 test kits per Partner State) and the supply of essential Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) in addition to those already procured under the Support to the Ebola response,” Bazivamo said.