The cross-border ministerial meeting in Lusaka in March 2011 was convened by the World Health Organisation African office (WHO Afro) and Zambian Health ministry, to identify gaps in implementation of cross-border disease surveillance, report Pana.
The group of nations are responding to epidemic prone disease migration, in terms of International Health Regulations of 2005, and national primary health care strategies.
Trade in fake and counterfeit drugs adds to the risk of common diseases spreading to epidemic proportions.
The 7th Polio Technical Advisory Group also met in March 2011 to review implementation of routine and supplemental immunisation programmes in participating countries, surveillance on major transmission routes via borders, and synchronised cross-border activities, according to Pana.
Polio, measles, flu outbreaks
Zambian acting health secretary, Dr Elizabeth Chizema, noted outbreaks of infectious diseases spreading beyond national borders.
Outbreaks of polio in Angola, DRC and Congo, measles in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe in 2010, and pandemic influenza H1N1 ‘bird flu’ in 2009, called for coordinated cross-border disease control and surveillance.
Zambia called on its neighbours to implement International Health Regulations as adopted by the World Health Assembly, effective since 2007.
States are agreed to build, strengthen and maintain public health risk management, and health emergency response capacities.
WHO representative Dr Olusegun Babaniyi noted an urgent need for strengthening inter-country infectious disease surveillance and response, including regular exchange of data on communicable diseases.
The 60 delegates included WHO and national officials implementing programmes for drug safety, drugs standards, immunisation, surveillance, environmental health, and sanitation.
WHO resolution AF/RC57/R1 urges states to share information on cholera prevention and control.
The WHO 60th Regional Committee in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in 2010, agreed to conduct cross border programmes.