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May 21, 2024, (Nairobi, Kenya): In an era where infectious disease outbreaks and health emergencies continue to undermine regional health security, a concerted effort is essential to bolster preparedness and response mechanisms. Recognising this urgent need, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Chatham House, and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), in collaboration with the World Health Organization regional offices of Africa (WHO AFRO) and the Eastern Mediterranean (WHO EMRO), are organising a pivotal technical and high policy ministers’ meeting for participating countries—Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia—in Nairobi, Kenya, from May 20th through May 22nd, 2024.

The meeting aims to address the persistent challenges posed by infectious disease outbreaks and other health emergencies, which have far-reaching impacts on both health and economic development in the region. Despite ongoing efforts, border interphase remains a weak link in cross-border cooperation and outbreak response. This is particularly problematic in regions where vulnerable and mobile populations, climate change, and existing healthcare constraints exacerbate the situation.

The One Health approach, which emphasises the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health, is central to this initiative. The meeting seeks to harness this approach to develop practical policies and actionable strategies that can be implemented to strengthen health security across borders.

The meeting will encompass several critical components:

  1. Presentation of Evidence-Based Priorities: The technical workshop will present evidence-based priorities to the Director Generals of the Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Livestock Resources, and Environment from Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia. This step is crucial for aligning on the most pressing health security issues and potential solutions.
  2. Agreement on Actionable Recommendations: Participants will work towards agreeing on actionable recommendations and potential collaborative processes relevant to the three countries. These recommendations aim to enhance outbreak preparedness, response, and resilience, focusing on cross-border One Health emergencies.
  3. High Policy Dialogue: A high-level policy dialogue will be facilitated among the Ministers of Health, Agriculture and Livestock Resources, Culture and Tourism, and Environment from the three countries. This dialogue is expected to culminate in a political agreement endorsing the outcomes and recommendations of the technical workshop.

The outcomes of this meeting will not only influence health security policies but also foster stronger economic ties and trade links between Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia. By addressing the human-animal-environmental interface, the initiative aims to create a robust framework for health security that is resilient to the complexities of modern public health challenges.


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