TANZANIA—The World Health Organisation (WHO), with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has handed over a refurbished infectious disease isolation unit in Mutukula to the Kagera Region’s Ministry of Health.

The utilization of this unit at the one-stop border point of the Tanzania-Uganda border is set to facilitate screening measures for travellers at points of entry, preventing cross-border disease transmission by detecting and restricting travel for exposed or ill individuals from affected areas.

Tanzania, like many countries, has been responding to various emerging and re-emerging diseases. Key among these was the outbreak of the Marburg virus last year, which resulted in six deaths.

With timely interventions from the government, WHO, and partners, the virus was curtailed within 90 days.

WHO has also been collaborating with the Ministry of Health to enhance readiness and response to health emergencies, with teams of first responders trained in crucial aspects of outbreak preparedness and response.

The presence of this standardized unit at the point of entry aligns with the International Health Regulations (IHR) obligations and recommendations, empowering countries to prevent, prepare for, and respond to public health risks at Points of Entry (POEs).

The Mutukula Isolation Unit replaces an old, dilapidated temporary tent that previously served as an isolation center and was repurposed for managing suspected cases.

The new facility will play a key role in case management and investigation, aiding in the control of community transmission.

This facility is part of ongoing efforts to strengthen health systems in Tanzania to accelerate the health-for-all agenda.

In his address, Dr. Samwel Laizer, Kagera’s Regional Medical Officer, noted that with the influx of tourists, especially in a busy border area like Mutukula, the isolation center comes at an opportune time to bolster resilience against future outbreaks.

He thanked WHO and USAID, emphasizing that with continued collaboration, universal health coverage in Tanzania is achievable.

Commenting on the new facility, Dr. Charles Sagoe-Moses, WHO Country Representative in Tanzania, highlighted that the Mutukula isolation unit will strengthen Tanzania’s health system in detecting, preventing, and responding quickly and efficiently to public health emergencies, thereby saving lives.

He expressed gratitude to USAID for their timely financial support, noting that many lives will be transformed, and communities will be better prepared for future emergencies or outbreaks.

Laura Chitterenden, Program Adviser for USAID, expressed her honor in witnessing the completion of this life-saving isolation unit and congratulated the Government of Tanzania for its ongoing efforts to prepare the country against future outbreaks.

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