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EU-IGAD Reactivate Border Committee to Ease COVID-19 Burden

The 10-member committee Selected during a cross-border committee meeting held in Nimule Town Council on Thursday will have officials from the immigration, customs, security, local governments, the Ministry of Health as well as members of the business community from both Uganda and South Sudan.
Members of the Uganda - South Sudan cross border during a meeting at Royal Palace Hotel in Nimule Town Council - Photo by Dominic Ochola

Audio 3

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development – IGAD has reactivated a joint committee to respond to the health and social-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic at the Uganda-South Sudan border.

The 10-member committee Selected during a cross-border committee meeting held in Nimule Town Council on Thursday will have officials from the immigration, customs, security, local governments, the Ministry of Health as well as members of the business community from both Uganda and South Sudan.

The committee will be tasked to strengthen cross border COVID-19 and surveillance and quick response against any other epidemics, ensure timely information sharing, and refer sick travellers to health facilities for timely medication and treatment.

Harriet Mayinja, the National Point of Entry Focal Person in the Uganda Ministry of Health said there are many public health threats that the cross-border committee will jointly mitigate through communication and coordination, joint outbreak investigation and efficient response.

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According to the Director-General of Preventive Health Services in the Ministry of Health, Dr John Pasquale Rumunu, the terms of reference of the committee are aligned to the South Sudan’s national COVID-19 strategy to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

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Meanwhile, Dr Harriet Nabukwasi, the Disease Surveillance Expert at the IGAD Secretariat says that  revitalization of the committee will harmonize control measures and support advocacy efforts in combating the COVID-19 pandemic and other epidemic diseases.

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The authorities disclosed that globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused worldwide disruptions in health service delivery and socio-economic activities. Currently, over 216 million cases and 4.49 million deaths have been reported globally yet the trends continue to show a long way from achieving endemic levels. 

The IGAD region reported over 740, 511 cases and 16, 297 deaths by the end of August 2021 in the wake of the looming third wave of the contagion. The region covers the countries of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.

Following the declaration of the Head of States and call for Action by the Ministers of Health and Finance, the European Union responded by funding the IGAD regional response strategy with 60 million Euros (249.218 billion Shillings) to the health and socio-economic impacts of the virus.

The response strategy targets border communities, migrants and refugee host communities, Internally Displaced Persons and other mobile populations in the IGAD region to alleviate and humanitarian crisis through long term strategies and response to acute disasters.