Experts attending a regional health conference in Uganda yesterday called on East African countries to build early warning systems that can protect people and animals against diseases.
The stakeholders meeting, which discussed emerging pandemic threats, closes today in Entebbe. It attracted over 50 health professionals from several African countries.
According to Dr Julius Lutwama, the Principal Health Officer at the Uganda Virus Research Institute, more attention should be put on building the existing capacity to handle emerging diseases.
“The first thing should be for all countries in the region to identify capacity gaps that exist in the diagnosis of diseases,” Lutwama said, adding that facilities like laboratories should be fully equipped and modernised to effectively accomplish the task.
Delegates at the conference also called for concerted efforts in the effective monitoring of climate change conditions and ecological changes, saying that these also account for the current emerging diseases in the region.
They argued that on many occasions laboratory results are obtained late when the outbreak has already spread widely from its original results.
“The animal diseases have caused immense socio-economic losses while some are of significant zoonotic importance,” observed Percy Misika, the Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) Country Representative in Uganda.
“It has been estimated that 75 percent of new, emerging or re-emerging diseases in this century originate from animals.”
Participants also called for enough disease surveillance, information sharing among laboratories at national, regional and levels.