The East African Community Heads of State President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda H.E Paul Kagame of Rwanda, H.E Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, and H.E Salvar MaryArdit Kiir of South Sudan have held a consultative meeting through video conference on Tuesday 12the May 2020.
During the meeting, the Presidents noted the current status of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region and commended the ministers responsible for health, trade, transport and EAC affairs for their initiative in adopting a regional approach to the pandemic.
In a joint communique shared after the meeting this afternoon, the Head of State also received the report of joint meeting of ministers responsible for health, trade, transport and EAC affairs on the EAC regional COVID-19 response and commended partner states, the WHO and African Centre for Disease Control (ACDC), for the efforts being made towards addressing the pandemic and the steps taken to contain the disease and prevent further spread in the EAC region.
A decision was taken during the meeting that partner states adopt a harmonized system for certification and sharing of COVID-19 test results. They also took note of the regional COVID-19 response plan and its key target interventions and directed the ministers to ensure it complements the partner states’ national COVID-19 response plans.
The heads of state also noted that the information sharing is key during crisis such as the current pandemic and directed the ministers to finalize and adopt an EAC digital surveillance and tracking system for drivers and crew on COVID-19 for immediate use by partner states.
They also took note of efforts by partner states in undertaking bilateral engagements to address cross-border challenges and the EAC secretariat mission that assessed the situation on the clearance processes a the borders during the pandemic.
The heads of state noted that the region’s key economic sectors are experiencing a slowdown as a result of the pandemic such as agriculture, trade, manufacturing and industry, tourism, hospitality and entertainment. They have directed partner states to prioritize regional value/supply chains to support local production of essential medical products and supplies including masks, sanitizers, soaps, coveralls, face shield, processed food and ventilators as part of efforts to combat COVID-19 in the region.
They have also designates the ministers responsible for health, transport and EAC affairs to be the focal persons for the regional COVID-19 response under the leadership of the ministers of health.
They also directed the focal persons to immediately work on a regional mechanism for testing and certification of truck drivers prior to their departure at the point of origin and every two weeks and report to the heads of state.
The heads of state also agreed to meet regularly to address the response efforts and expressed the need for flexibility in the application of the EAC rules and procedures when faced with a crisis such as the current pandemic.
Tanzanian president John Pombe Magufuli missed the meeting and there was no explanation given.