Following the Public Health Emergency of International Concern declared by the World Health Organization, Dr Michael Katende, the acting Head of Health at the EAC Secretariat has urged EAC 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 minimise it and to actively take precautions.”
EAC Partner States have already put in place precautionary measures to stop the spread of EVD into the EAC region.
This includes vaccinating frontline health workers, screening all travellers at points of entry including airports and training the first responders in case of an outbreak.
However, Dr Katende fears these measures might not be sufficient, especially in case the EVD spreads into South Sudan with its still rather weak health system.
He thus called 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, Katende called upon traders and trade associations and those travelling across the border with DRC to take extra precaution, as the EVD threat is real
Signs of EVD include: fever, severe headache, body weakness, fatigue, diarrhoea, vomiting, and unexplained haemorrhage (bleeding or bruising) from various body outlets like the nose, ears and mouth.