Zanzibar, 20-21 July 2017 - The World Health Organization Country Representative in Tanzania, Dr. Matthieu Kamwa, visited Zanzibar as part of the continuing WHO support. Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous part of the Untied Republic of Tanzania, located 25 to 50 kilometers from the mainland. It consists of two main islands, Unguja (the main island) and Pemba and several small ones.
During his mission, Dr. Kamwa had an opportunity to meet with the Second Vice President, His Excellency Mr. Seif Ali Iddi. In attendance were also the Deputy Minister for Health, Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Health, the WHO Liaison Officer for Zanzibar, and the WCO Health Security and Emergency Team Lead. The WHO Representative acknowledged and appreciated to the Vice President the government’s leadership on health matters in general and specifically, the significant efforts in controlling the cholera outbreak. Additionally, he praised the government’s vision of eliminating cholera in Zanzibar and assured the Vice President of WHO’s continued commitment in supporting the ministry of health.
The Second Vice President expressed his appreciation of the timeliness and appropriateness of the WHO Representative’s visit to Zanzibar. He praised the recent WHO’s support in controlling cholera and guidance in other health matters in Zanzibar and highlighted WHO’s long relationship with the people and government of Zanzibar. In support to cholera control, the Vice President requested for additional support in the provision of chlorine tablets for the disinfection of water at the household level.
Discussions on the International Health Regulations (IHR (2005)) and Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) The WHO Representative had an opportunity to discuss with the Deputy Minister and Principal Secretary on the importance of strengthening the IHR (2005) Focal Point as a critical element towards achieving global health security. In keeping with the IHR (2005) requirements, he emphasized the importance of timely reporting of diseases listed under the Zanzibar IDSR strategy. Delays in reporting of cholera and rabies cases was cited as recent examples. The implications of late reporting such as delay in mobilizing required resources, organizing response teams, public mistrust of government, generation of rumors, and the erosion of confidence in government officials by the public were raised. In response, the MOH agreed take steps to strengthen IDSR and appoint the IHR (2005) focal person for Zanzibar.
WHO will provide technical and financial assistance to support the IHR Focal Point and continue to strengthen IDSR implementation.
To observe the cholera outbreak response in the field, Dr. Kamwa visited the Chumbuni Cholera Treatment Centre (CTC) and had discussions with the CTC Medical Officer in-charge and other staff and commended their efforts.
During the mission, Dr. Kamwa also managed to visit two health institutions: State University of Zanzibar (SUZA) Medical School and Mnazi Mmoja Teaching and Referral Hospital where he committed to explore ways to build external partnerships. He also committed that WHO will provide the many available guidance documents (SoPs, guidelines, publications) and technical support in developing an emergency response plan for the referral hospital.
In concluding his mission, the following main actions by WHO will follow:
- Support implementation and enforcement of the tobacco control regulations
- Strengthen capacity for IDSR and IHR implementation
- Provide guidance and support to the Zanzibar cholera elimination plan
- Support building of partnerships for the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA) Medical School and provide guidelines
- Support Mnazi Mmoja Referral Hospital to develop an emergency response plan; capacity building on Workload Indicators for Staffing Norms (WISN) and assessment of the Electronic Medical Recording System (EMRS) that was supported by WHO