Tanzania has created an Emergency Preparedness and Response
Plan to deal with avian flu. The plan is supported by the country’s development
partners, such as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Mwasekaga is the avian influenza coordinator for CDC Tanzania. He told VOA
English to Africa reporter Douglas Mpuga that avian flu is a serious threat,
with 11 African countries reporting the disease in animals and three countries
– Nigeria, Djibouti and Egypt – reporting it in humans.
said while Tanzania is not yet affected, the disease could easily be spread
through trade and tourism and by migratory wild birds from infected areas of
East Asia. He said, “Introduction and spread of avian flu is a serious threat
to Tanzania socially, economically and health wise because of its impact on
food safety and security.”
said bird flu could ruin the lives of the rural poor who depend on chicken
sales for their livelihood. “But more so because the disease could have
devastating effect to people who are already suffering from HIV/AIDS and could
overburden the health system that is trying to cope with other, more common
diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and others.”
noted that the US government, through the CDC and the US Agency for
International Development (USAID), is working closely with Tanzania’s Ministry
of Livestock Development and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. He said
part of this cooperation involves US government support for the strengthening
of avian flu testing capabilities in both animals and humans by equipping the
Center of Veterinary Laboratory and the National Influenza Center.
said the US government has awarded a four-year grant worth US $ 800,000 to
Tanzania’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare for the surveillance and
detection of avian flu.
US government is also supporting training on preparedness and rapid response.
Mwasekaga said, “We support the strengthening of coordination mechanism at the
national level through the National Influenza Multisectoral Taskforce Emergency
Preparedness and Response Plan. I think the goal here is to build local
capacity over time.”