Peer-to-Peer Exchange: Uganda and Zambia Collaborate On Border Health Security

In September officials from Uganda National Institute of Public Health visited their peers at Zambia National Institute of Public Health to discuss and improve border health security. The spread of diseases like Ebola, MERS, COVID-19 and countless other infectious diseases are facilitated by travel, which makes effective surveillance, preparedness and emergency response at borders and other points of entry a critical component of any system protecting the health of the public.

The Ugandan team’s report outlined two goals for the visit and meetings: 1. To identify best practices in surveillance, preparedness and emergency response at points of entry in Zambia. 2. To develop actionable recommendations for improving surveillance, preparedness and emergency response at Points of Entry in Zambia.

The Ugandan team visited and met with health teams at two international airports, Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in the capital, Lusaka, and Harry Mwanga Nkulumba Airport in Livingstone. Among the best practices cited in the report for protecting public health at airports are robust passenger screening programs, regularly updating screening teams about the status of ongoing epidemics, the availability of medical staff, the maintenance of a quarantine facility for ill or suspected-ill passengers, lab testing and more.

The Ugandan team also accompanied their Zambian counterparts one of Zambia’s land border posts with Botswana, and two border posts for crossings from Zimbabwe. The Ugandan team’s reports noted how their Zambian counterparts maintain medical and administrative health staff at these border crossings, along with food inspectors and fumigation crews to protect Zambia from infested imported goods. 

The Ugandan team’s recommendations for their ministry of health include updating guidelines and standard operating procedures at points of entry, particularly for food inspection and the care of human remains; a review of the design of animal holding grounds at points of entry; the provision of chemical spill kits and water testing kits to points of entry staff; and the creation of a permanent staff structure.

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