The cross-border health programme, implemented by IGAD’s Health and Social Development Division (HESAD), focuses in particular on cross-border marginalized populations (CBMP) and pastoralists living in arid and semi-arid lands.
By Shadrack Oiye
IGAD Member States collaborated to undertake the following activities:
Launch of joint and synchronized polio immunization in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya: In September 14, 2018, IGAD, in collaboration with the Government of Kenya and in consultation with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) partners, launched a synchronized polio vaccination for the IGAD region in Garissa (KENYA). The event, which was presided over by H. E. Amb (Eng.) Mahboub Maalim, culminated in the signing of a communiqué between the Ministers of Health from Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.
Synchronized vaccination is a follow-up to the declaration of the Horn of Africa poliomyelitis outbreak in Kenya and Somalia during the 17th WHA in May 2018. Consequent commitments, as a matter of public health urgency, were to lead to the implementation of coordinated outbreak responses in order to prevent international spread and to quickly interrupt the outbreak before the end of 2018.
Strengthening of cross-border post market surveillance of medicines in the region: In December 2018, the IGAD secretariat in collaboration with USAID and IGAD member states medicines regulatory authorities conducted an assessment to establish the quality of medicines in the IGAD cross-border areas. This involved sampling of Oxytocin, a first line prophylactic and therapy for postpartum haemorrhage, which is estimated to cause approximately 20% of pregnancy-related deaths globally; and Amoxicillin dispersible tablet/suspension, a first line medicine for the treatment of paediatric pneumonia, which is implicated for 1.2 million under-fives deaths annually. The survey sites were pre-selected cross-border facilities of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. The samples are being analyzed at the Ethiopian Food, Medicines and Healthcare Administration and Control Authority and the implications of the findings will be shared among partners for actions aimed at improving the quality of these medicines in the cross-border areas.
Tuberculosis (TB) assessment and drugs donations: In July and August 2018, IGAD secretariat in collaboration with the Challenge TB conducted a rapid assessment of the challenges in the diagnosis, treatment and referral of TB patients for cross-border mobile populations. This exercise hoped to control regional TB transmission and Multi-drug-resistant TB within the region. During the assessment, IGAD with support from USAID was able to facilitate donation of second line TB medicines to support the Federal Government of Somalia TB program through the Kenya National TB Leprosy and Lung Disease Program. This was done through the TB Global Fund recipient for Somalia, World Vision. This donation averted cross-border transmission of MDR-TB within the region.
Shadrack Oiye is a Nutrition Specialist and Program Officer for IGAD’s Health and Social Development Division