Regional consultative meeting to improve understanding of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome

Regional consultative meeting to improve understanding of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) conducted

IGAD Center for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD) organized a regional consultative meeting to improve understanding of MERS-CoV and enhance its prevention and control in the Greater Horn of Africa and took place at Grand Holiday Villa Hotel in Khartoum, Sudan from 28-29 September, 2015. The participants were Directors of Veterinary Services, Heads of Veterinary Epidemiology Units, Public Health representatives, Regional Support Laboratory for Eastern Africa (NAHDIC), Managers of quarantine stations and camel traders from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan and Sudan. Also in attendance were representatives from AU-IBAR, FAO-ECTAD Eastern Africa, ILRI, ICPALD, IGAD Economic Cooperation and Social Development and the OIE. A participant from Somaliland was also in attendance. The workshop was officially opened by Dr. kamal; under Secretary ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rangelands; Sudan

MERS-CoV is a deadly disease of humans. According to WHO, there have been 1,106 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS CoV including 421 related deaths worldwide (22 April 2015). Majority of cases were reported from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) but cases were also reported in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, Oman, Kuwait, Yemen, Lebanon and Iran. Camels have been suspected as a reservoir for the MERS virus and a possible source for human infection but not yet confirmed

Camel being an important specie in the region, traded with Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and important source of livelihood in the ASALs, ICPALD/IGAD in collaboration with AUIBAR/SMP organized this regional workshop to enhance awareness among actors, plan a road map for MERS-COV and improve coordination and information sharing within the region and with MENA countries.

Finally the workshop recommended the following main actions; Countries be supported to design and implement harmonized surveillance plan under the framework of One Heath (OH) targeting humans, camels and other animals, national laboratories be enhanced with diagnostic capacities for serology through provision of diagnostic kits, training and external quality assurance, Research institutions to embark on virus isolation and genotyping to compare with isolates already made from elsewhere, IGAD in collaboration with FAO, AU-IBAR and OIE to establish a regional technical working group to oversee and coordinate MERS-CoV activities in the region including resource mobilization;  IGAD to use the existing collaboration mechanisms with GCC and to establish formal fora to discuss MERS-CoV issues and relevant authorities to enhance information sharing with policy makers and the public at large to raise awareness on MERS-CoV risk

We are grateful to USAID (SMP-AH project) for financing this event.

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