Raising Awareness on Outbreak Preparedness at the 6th East African Health and Scientific Conference
On March 29-31, the 6th East African Health and Scientific Conference and International Health Exhibition and Trade Fair was held in Bujumbura, Burundi. The three-day conference fostered cooperation in the development and provision of quality health care through research, field experiences and sharing of data.
This year’s theme was “Preparedness for and Control of Disease Outbreaks, Epidemics, and Pandemics, in the Context of Climate Change, Globalization and Gaps in the Health System.” During the conference, P&R delivered two presentations at a USAID-moderated symposium, “Lessons Learnt from Ebola and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N1, H5N8 Outbreaks: A Way Forward for Better and Effective Preparedness and Control of Outbreak,” where the project stressed the need to invest in outbreak prevention and strengthen regional and national capacities for infectious disease intelligence that allows for effective prevention, detection and response to public health threats.
The conference was attended by the President of Burundi, His Excellency Pierre Nkurunziza; the Minister of Health and Fight against Aids in Burundi, Honorable Josiane Nijimbere; the U.S Ambassador to Burundi, Anne Casper; and many other officials. USAID and other development agencies were also represented at the conference.
President Nkurunziza emphasized the need for cooperation on health issues, especially since health is a major part of the country’s developmental agenda. Nkurunziza also announced that the headquarters of the East African Health Research Commission would be moving from Arusha, Tanzania to Bujumbura this year, and pledged his full support in ensuring a smooth and timely relocation.
The USAID symposium, organized by P&R, fostered a greater understanding of the experiences and lessons learnt from East, Central and West African countries in preparedness and response to Ebola, HPAI H5N1 and H5N8. Dr. Andrew Kitua of P&R gave two keynote speeches, one on “Health Systems in Control of Outbreaks, Epidemics and Pandemics,” in which he highlighted strategies to strengthen the Preparedness and Response components of the health system and the role of the national One Health Platforms. The second keynote address was on the role of frontline health workers in preparedness and response to outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics.
The next conference will be held in Tanzania in March 2019, and will present another opportunity for P&R to showcase and share lessons learned from its regional and country-specific activities.