East African experts on Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers (VHFs) are meeting in Uganda to devise strategies to counter the various VHFs affecting the region.
The fevers, most of which are fatal, include Ebola, Rift Valley Fever, Yellow Fever and Marburg fever.
The two-day meeting hosted by the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) is part of a process to formulate a regional policy to address the frequent outbreaks of various VHFs among EAC member states and neighbouring countries.
Opening the meeting, the EAC Secretary General, Dr. Richard Sezibera noted that although the incidence of VHFs was not regular compared to infectious or vector borne diseases like tuberculosis or malaria, their impact was enormous, especially due to their high fatality rates.
He observed that outbreaks of VHFs often take long to detect and confirm, due to limited financial, technical, infrastructural and human resources as well as organisational and institutional capacity to mount effective emergency preparedness and response at national and regional levels.
He urged EAC member states to join hands with specialised technical agencies to develop and implement a “robust” EAC Regional Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers Strategic Emergency Preparedness and Contingency Plan between 2012 and 2016.
The proposed Contingency Plan seeks to, among others; raise the regional capacity to respond to the VHFs and other emerging and re-emerging diseases of epidemic and pandemic potential in East Africa.
The head of other Epidemic Infectious Diseases unit at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, Dr Thierry Nyatanyi, noted that Rwanda has a surveillance system was put in place to detect such fevers.
“So far, we (Rwanda) have never recorded any case of these fevers,” he said.
Dr Nyatanyi further acknowledged that harmonisation of policies on regional level was necessary to continue fighting VHFs that have become prevalent in some regional countries.
“If we have a strong collaboration in all EAC member countries, we shall be able to share knowledge and fight this problem,” he said.