The 18th Ordinary Meeting of the East African Community Sectoral Council of Ministers on Health came to a close today in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The meeting reviewed the progress made in implementing the previous decisions and directives of the Council and Sectoral Council and also considered other issues of importance in the area of health in the region.
Addressing the meeting, the Chairperson of EAC Sectoral Council on Health who is also the Minister of State for Public and Primary Health in Rwanda, Dr. Patrick Ndimubanzi, said that the Sectoral Council meeting presents a good opportunity to assess progress made in implementation of prioritized directives and projects in the region including reviewing progress in implementation of the EAC Health Sector Investment Priorities approved by the Heads of State in February 2018 in Kampala, Uganda.
The Chairperson further observed that the 18th Ordinary meeting of Ministers responsible for Health comes at a time when Africa and the world is battling disease outbreaks like the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in addition to the floods in Mozambique and Zimbabwe which have killed over 300 people, leaving many with no water, shelter, food and health care.
The Minister said that the current happenings were a clear reminder for the EAC region to strengthen disaster preparedness and response mechanisms to be able to detect and respond to disasters in a timely manner.
Dr. Ndimubanzi called upon all key stakeholders, relevant departments and agencies in governments to ensure that resources are available to support disaster preparedness and response activities, including mounting effective rapid response teams to avert extreme suffering.
On his part, Christophe Bazivamo, the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of the Productive and Social Sectors, thanked the Ministers responsible for Health for their relentless efforts towards the implementation of innovative initiatives in the Health sector and integrating them into the EAC regional health sector investment priorities (2018-2028) which were graciously approved by the 19th Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State in February 2018.
Bazivamo further informed the Ministers that the EAC Secretariat had communicated to various Partners regarding the 2nd EAC Ministerial, Development Partners and Investors Round Table scheduled for 16th – 17th May, 2019.
He, however, noted that convening of the event had been affected by inability to obtain the core funding and the situation has been further complicated by the concurrence of major scheduled events such as the 72nd World Health Assembly to take place from 20th – 28th May, 2019 and the Transform Africa Event scheduled for 7th -10th May, 2019 in Kigali, Rwanda.
The Deputy Secretary General informed the meeting that following a meeting between the EAC Secretary General and the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) on 4th February, 2019, the EAC Secretariat was requested to prepare a list of projects for presentation at the AfDB Investors Forum scheduled for November 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
During the meeting, ministers discussed various issues touching on regional health including: Progress of implementation of previous directives and decisions of the EAC Council of Ministers and EAC Sectoral Council on Health; Status of operationalization of the following six Multi-National EAC Regional Centres of Excellence (CoE) for Skills and Tertiary Education in Higher Medical and Health Sciences Education, Services and Research Program and Updates on the status of operationalization of the East African Community Regional Centre of Excellence for Biomedical Engineering and e- Health (CEBE).
In addition, the Ministers discussed the possibility of convening the 2nd Joint Ministerial, development partners and investors round table meeting to mobilize resource to support implementation of the EAC health sector investment priorities; Status of operationalization of the EAC Regional Network of Public Health Reference Laboratories for Communicable Diseases and the implementation of the EAC/GIZ “Support to Pandemic Preparedness in the EAC Region” Project among others.
The Sectoral Council was also attended by Ummy Ally Mwalimu, Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Tanzania; Dr Thaddée Ndikumana, Minister of Public Health and Fight Against AIDS, Burundi; Ken Obura, Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of East African Community and Regional Development, Kenya; Uganda was represented by Dr. Isaac KADOWA, Assistant Commissioner, Global Regional Health Partners and Multi-Sectoral Coordination.
The Republic of South Sudan was not represented in the Ministerial Session but gave consent for the meeting to proceed.