Institutional frameworks for management of epizoonotic emergencies in six countries in the Eastern Africa region: a situational analysis

W Bazeyo, Roy W Mayega, I Nabukenya, J Keyyu, S Mamuya, S J Tabu, L Senna, M Mohammad, E Rugigana, A Alingi, M Mapatano, J Kiguli, C G Orach, G Burnham, J Killewo
East African Journal of Public Health 2013, 10 (2): 387-96

INTRODUCTION: The Eastern Africa region is a hot-spot for epidemics of emerging zoonotic diseases ('epizoonotics'). However, the region's capacity for response to epidemics of zoonotic origin has not been documented. This paper presents a multi-country situational analysis on the institutional frameworks for management of zoonotic epidemics in the Eastern Africa region.

METHODS: A multi-country assessment of 6 country teams was conducted (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, DRC and Rwanda). It involved a review of records and interviews with key informants from agencies with a stake in the management of zoonotic and disasters in general in the respective countries. Qualitative data were analyzed for key emerging themes.

FINDINGS: There are many socio-cultural risk factors to epidemic prone zoonotic diseases in the region. Countries have varying levels of preparedness for zoonotic emergencies. All 6 countries have a framework for disaster management. However, technical response to epidemics is managed by the line sectors, with limited Inter-sectoral collaboration. Some sectors were disproportionately more prepared than others. Surveillance systems are mostly passive and inadequate for early detection. All 6 countries have built reasonable capacity to respond to avian influenza, but not other zoonotic emergencies. Most countries lack personnel at the operational levels, and veterinary public health services are ill-facilitated.

CONCLUSION: There is need to strengthen veterinary public health services at all levels, but with a 'one health' approach. There is also need to establish 'risk-based surveillance' hot spots for zoonotic epidemics and to build community resilience 'epizoonotic' diseases.

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