Zanzibar – U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania Dr. Donald Wright today announced new U.S. support for the Zanzibar Ministry of Health’s efforts to detect and respond to disease outbreaks, particularly the COVID-19 pandemic. Ambassador Wright made the announcement during the Inauguration Ceremony of the new Zanzibar Public Health Emergency Operations Center (ZPHEOC), which was established with support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Fund. Ambassador Wright inaugurated the facility in the presence of Zanzibar Minister of Health Nassor Mazrui. Also in attendance were Dr. Ghirmay Andemichael, World Health Organization Representative, and Nelson Msuya, Representative of the Global Fund.
The goal of the ZPHEOC is to effectively detect and respond to public health threats. The new, expanded ZPHEOC will increase the ability of public health professionals to control disease outbreaks and respond to health emergencies in a coordinated, efficient fashion.
“We are all a part of a very interconnected world, and therefore at a risk for internal and external disease spread. The terrible toll of COVID-19 over the past year has made this abundantly clear. It has also made clear the importance of having a trained workforce and efficient structures and systems in place to rapidly detect and robustly respond to emerging threats,” Ambassador Wright said during his remarks, explaining the vital role of the ZPHEOC in controlling disease outbreaks.
The ZPHEOC began as a one-room facility in 2019. The new ZPHEOC building was provided by the Zanzibar Government and restored thanks to support from the Global Fund and the World Health Organization. The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) provided training of field epidemiologists (including members of Zanzibar’s Ministry of Health), helped establish an incident management system, and procured critical equipment (i.e. video conference tools, projector, internet connectivity and EOC software licensing) to ensure the functionality of the ZPHEOC. CDC also helped train key staff from the ZPHEOC in the Public Health Emergency Management fellowship program in Atlanta, USA.
In addition to supporting the Zanzibar Ministry of Health’s efforts to control disease outbreaks through surveillance, detection, and response, the U.S. government is also contributing major new funding for critical care of patients of disease, including those affected by the COVID-19 epidemic, Ambassador Wright announced. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and CDC have identified more than $1.2 million to support the Zanzibar Ministry of Health’s outbreak response efforts. These funds build on critical health security investments provided by the US government in the last few years.
The U.S. Government through USAID recently donated $400,000 worth of medical supplies to the Zanzibar Ministry of Health in April 2021. At the inauguration ceremony, Ambassador Wright said an additional sum of $500,000 is being donated by USAID to expand oxygen use and critical care services.
The assistance, which will be implemented in both isles of Zanzibar, Pemba and Unguja, will improve and expand oxygen use, and emergency and critical care services. The initiative will focus on 1) improving the capacity of frontline health providers on the provision of essential emergency and critical care services, 2) strengthening the capacity of biomedical technicians on the use and maintenance of oxygen equipment, and 3) improving access to oxygen equipment and supplies at six public health facilities in Zanzibar.
CDC funding will be used to support enhanced surveillance and continued functionality of the ZPHEOC.
“As these contributions demonstrate, there can be no doubt that the U.S. stands shoulder to shoulder with the Ministry, with health workers, and with the people of Zanzibar in the fight against COVID-19,” said Ambassador Wright in his remarks.