The East African Community (EAC) partner states have been challenged to embrace a coordinated approach in the fight against Covid-19.
Consequently, EAC Secretary General, Peter Mathuki is pushing for harmonization of COVID-19 testing charges and quarantine administrative procedures across the region in addition to strengthening public-private sector cooperation for joint investment in the manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines.
The Secretary-General, however, noted that there was immense hope on the horizon with all Partner States having embarked on national vaccination drives, adding that more work needs to be done to increase vaccination levels in the region that currently stand at 2% vis-à-vis 70% in other parts of the world.
Dr. Mathuki urged East Africans to turn out in their numbers for the jab saying that without vaccination, people will fear visiting the region, and critical service sectors and especially tourism would continue to suffer.
He said that the EAC would continue pushing for the adoption by Partner States of the EAC Pass, which integrates all EAC Partner States’ negative test results for COVID-19 and those already vaccinated to ensure safe and seamless travel across the region.
The SG disclosed that the EAC Adhoc Regional Coordination Committee, which has since 2020 been supporting the EAC Partner States through interventions including supporting testing capacity, provision of laboratory supplies, test kits and personal protective equipment, policy guidance and training of key personnel, among other steps, would continue with its work until the pandemic was fully contained.
The EAC Adhoc Regional Coordination Committee for COVID has been steering the regional response activities against the pandemic including coordination of policy organ meetings and mobilization of resources.
Mathuki was speaking during the SG’s First 100 Days Forum that focused on the highlights, challenges and achievements since he assumed office on 27th April, 2021. The forum drew 267 participants including Permanent/Principal Secretaries from EAC Partner States’ Ministries of EAC Affairs, Development Partners, Members of the Diplomatic Community, Private Sector, Civil Society, Staff of EAC Organs, and Institutions, and the Media.
Dr. Mathuki disclosed that he had already held consultations with the members of the Summit of Heads of State to seek their views on how the Community should be run.
“The Heads of State reiterated that the Community should be steered in the spirit of the EAC Treaty that puts emphasis on a people-centered, market-driven, and private sector-led integration process. These, to accelerate regional growth, create wealth and reduce poverty in the region,” he said.
“They further emphasized the need to take the EAC integration to the people at the grassroots, as they are the actual owners of the process,” said the Secretary-General.