US Ambassador to Tanzania Visits Zanzibar Public Health Emergency Operations Center

by Amref Health Africa

The newly appointed US Ambassador to Tanzania, Dr. Michael Anthony Battle, visited the Zanzibar Public Health Emergency Operations Center (ZPHEOC) to familiarize himself with the center’s operations.

Ambassador was joined by Zanzibar Minister of Health Hon Nassor Mazrui. Also, in attendance U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Tanzania Country Director, Dr. Mahesh Swaminathan, Amref Tanzania Country Director, Dr. Florence Temu.

The goal of the ZPHEOC is to effectively coordinate the response of public health threats. The new, expanded ZPHEOC has increased the ability of public health professionals to control disease outbreaks and respond to health emergencies in a coordinated, efficient routine, established with support from the U.S CDC as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Fund.

Through the U.S CDC, under Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) project, Amref Health Africa Tanzania, has been working in collaboration with the Ministry of Health in Zanzibar, since 2015 to support the government in implementing surveillance and building capacity to protect and improve public health threats.

Amref Health Africa in Tanzania through the U.S CDC support, has supported the establishment of Event-Based Surveillance( EBS) in Zanzibar by setting up a National Alert Desk to improve early warning and rapid response to public health events in the country. Additionally, four District Alert Management Desks have been set up in Pemba, and district surveillance officers have been trained to manage the alert desks. National event-based surveillance guidelines, Standard Operations Procedures (SOPs), and data collection tools have also been developed to facilitate the management of alerts Furthermore, the GHSA project supported the development of National Event Based Surveillance guidelines and training of 26 surveillance officers in Pemba who manages alert desks and equipped the desks with ICT materials, sensitized 120 Local and influential leaders who creates linkage with communities on detection and reporting of alerts of public health threats. 

During his visit, Ambassador, Battle met with the leadership and staff of ZPHEOC. The center has been working on the capacitation of healthcare workers to implement the new Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR 3rd) edition guidelines. At the community level, community health volunteers and other community structures are linked to health facilities for reporting and response. At the district level, trained FELTP graduates manage the alert desks for early warning and rapid response. At the national level, alert detection is done through various sources, including the community using a toll-free number (190), community health volunteers (CHV), and media such as TV, radio, magazines, and social media.

The visit by Ambassador  Battle highlights the importance of the work being done by U.S CDC and its partners such as Amref Health Africa in Tanzania in building capacity and improving public health threats in the country and enhanced surveillance and continued functionality of the ZPHEOC.

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