KENYA — From April 15th to 19th, 2024, a simulation-based training took place in Mombasa, Kenya, organized by Africa CDC, UNICEF, IFRC, and WHO, along with IOM, READY, and the UK-PHRS.

 The objective was to enhance regional cross-border Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) readiness during public health emergencies.

The training aimed to strengthen cross-border RCCE for coordinated emergency preparedness and response in the region, involving Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.

This initiative is crucial given the interconnectivity of the region and the frequent public health outbreaks, including Ebola, Marburg, cholera, and yellow fever.

RCCE has played a critical role in outbreak response in East and Southern Africa, supporting social and behavioural change necessary for effective emergency readiness and response.

This shift towards community engagement began during the 2018 Ebola Virus Disease outbreak and has since evolved to include a focus on coordinated approaches that actively involve affected communities.

 Speaking during the event, Dr. Lul Riek, Regional Director for the Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Coordinating Centres at Africa CDC, emphasized the importance of addressing health security challenges in the region, particularly the risks posed by dynamic cross-border movement.

 He highlighted the need for strengthened regional collaborations and RCCE strategies to deliver timely and culturally sensitive information to empower communities during health crises.

For her part, Lieke van de Wiel, UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Deputy Regional Director, stressed the urgency of their mission amid various emergencies, including missed vaccinations, conflict, and climate-sensitive diseases.

She advocated for continued collaboration across pillars and borders to ensure community-centred responses.

Dr. Daniel Langat, Head of Surveillance and Response at the Ministry of Health Kenya, emphasized the importance of data and evidence-based practices in decision-making processes and intervention tailoring.

He highlighted the potential of innovation and new technologies to enhance RCCE data utilization and response capacity.

Sophie Everest, UK-Public Health Rapid Support Team RCCE Specialist at the UK Health Security Agency, finished by expressing expressed the UK-PHRST’s delight in contributing to this partnership of RCCE experts.

She emphasized the workshop’s significance in developing SOPs, action plans, and training packages to improve RCCE readiness and data utilization for effective community-centred responses to outbreaks and disasters.

As emergency response partners navigate a complex landscape of health emergencies exacerbated by climate change and conflict, RCCE remains critical in bridging knowledge, collaboration, and action to support resilience, preparedness, and community well-being.

Africa CDC, UNICEF, IFRC, WHO, UK-PHRST, and other partners are committed to spearheading additional cross-border RCCE capacity-building workshops to reinforce resilience, preparedness, and community well-being throughout the region.

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