As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region, where a second wave has affected many countries with a high risk of cross-border transmission of emerging variants of the SARS CoV-2 virus, efforts for an effective joint response are on.
A weeklong (June 7-11) meeting is taking place in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire to find ways of strengthening preparedness and response at Ports of entry (PoE) to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and other future health emergencies in West Africa.
Under the auspices of the West African Health Organisation (WAHO), the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) and other regional partners, are supporting a regional initiative which aims at promoting a standardized approach to building capacity at PoE. According WAHO, this will be achieved through the training of a critical mass of trainers on a jointly-developed harmonized training curriculum on PoE.
The Abidjan meeting will among other things validate the harmonized PoE curriculum for the ECOWAS region. Established in 1975 via the treaty of Lagos, ECOWAS is a 15-member regional group with a mandate of promoting economic integration in all fields of activity of the constituting countries. Member countries making up ECOWAS are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’ Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo.
The AFENET Technical team at the Abidjan meeting includes: Dr. Simon Antara - the director, Dr. Ditu Kazambu - the head of programs, Dr. Godfrey Kayita - the coordinator Border Health, Dr. Patrick Nguku - the regional technical coordinator Nigeria/Anglophone West Africa, Dr. Benard Sawadogo - the regional technical coordinator for Francophone West Africa, Dr. Aishat Usman - the Field Epi Nigeria, Dr. Chukwuma Umeokonko - Scientific Writer and Ms. Lilian Kironde – as Administrator.