IOM ASSISTS IN COVID-19 READINESS ASSESSMENT IN TANZANIA
The first part of an assessment into Tanzania’s COVID-19 readiness has been completed in the country’s Kigoma region, which borders Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The study revealed border crossing patterns as well as needs and gaps in personnel and the equipment required for COVID-19 screening and in the referral for further management of potential cases.
As of Thursday 7 May, Tanzania had recorded 480 cases of COVID-19 and 16 deaths. This is the fourth highest incidence in the East and Horn of Africa: Djibouti, with less than one million people has the highest caseload, followed by Somalia, and Kenya.
The points of entry assessment in Tanzania was carried out by the Ministry of Health, the President’s Office, Regional Administration, and local Government – in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
It found that only 35% of the assessed points of entry in Kigoma had a port health official stationed to conduct and manage the health screening of travellers. In addition, 50% of the assessed points of entry lacked essential screening equipment and tools such as non-contact thermometers and protective equipment.
The assessment aims to cover nine border regions in the Mainland and in Zanzibar islands. Apart from Kigoma, IOM – as the pillar lead within the UN Response to COVID-19 in Tanzania - has assisted with assessments in the Kagera region and in Zanzibar. The collected data and information from Kagera region and Zanzibar are still being analysed.
The findings will help to inform IOM Tanzania’s distribution plan of up to USD100,000 worth of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), non-contact thermometers, handwashing stations, among other items, to be distributed at the assessed points of entry. This will align with national COVID-19 preparedness and response plans and will help mitigate the spread of the pandemic among Tanzanians.
Using its established methodology - the Health, Border, and Mobility Management Framework – IOM is working to increase the local preparedness, response, and prevention of epidemics. The current focus in Tanzania is on COVID-19 and Ebola which is still present despite being in retreat.
According to Dr Qasim Sufi, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Tanzania: “The assessment results will assist the Government and the international community in strengthening preparedness in prevention and response towards Ebola and COVID-19 along the border crossings especially with the DRC where both virus epidemics are currently present.”
The assessment in Kigoma covered both official and non-official points of entry. It was conducted from 29 March to 10 April 2020 with financial support from Japan, under the “Ebola Prevention and Preparedness in the Kigoma Region” project.
Among its other findings in Kigoma, it established that more people use informal points of entry especially during market days and, apparently, most informal points of entry continue to operate normally with little or no health screening. Only 45% had a full set of PPE and only 5% and 20% had decontamination facilities and biohazard waste bins, respectively.
Furthermore, only 30% had isolation rooms while 15% had the permanent infrastructure for health surveillance.
The COVID-19 readiness assessment report can be accessed here.