THE East African Community (EAC) Secretariat has successfully concluded a four-day cross-border Field Simulation Exercise (FSX), conducted on the Kenya-Tanzania border at Namanga One Stop Border Post (OSBP), with critical results and lessons for pandemic preparedness and response.
Over 250 participants from both countries, besides those from Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda took part in the exercise.
The exercise was conducted based on a scenario of an outbreak of a disease that impacts both human and animal lives and their livelihoods, including agriculture, tourism, security, trade and the economy as a whole.
According to a statement released by the EAC Secretariat yesterday, the exercise created an opportunity in which participants were able to identify strengths and weaknesses and facilitate practical corrective actions at all levels.
During the Simulation Exercise, community members from Kenya and Tanzania participated in events based on an evolving scenario designed to evoke real responses.
As part of the scenario, early warning, infections and deaths in animals and human beings prompted the reporting and ac-tivation of national and regional preparedness and response mechanisms.
The involvement of human health, animal health and other sectors reinforced the importance of the One Health approach and of appropriate risk and crisis communication, as well as cross-border collaboration.
Through imaginary scenarios under real conditions and public involvement, regional and national- level experts were able to test processes in place and identify opportunities for improvement of existing plans.
Community members in both countries were able to see first-hand the importance of their involvement in emergency preparedness and response.
The Field Simulation Exercise was facilitated by the World Health Organisation(WHO) with support from Deutsche Gesellschaft for Internationale Zusammenartbeit (GIZ) of the German government and other partners.
The simulation exercise participants worked diligently to avoid disruption of operations at the border and at other sites where activities took place.