Speaking yesterday in Dar es Salaam during the opening of the team’s quarterly meeting, TCAA Director General Hamza Johari said that the outcome of an assessment on International Health Regulations (IHR) carried out in May and June last year at three international airports and two domestic ones was promising but more needs to be done.
“I urge airport operators and public health officials at the airports to work hard to ensure that areas of weakness noticed during the mock assessment are addressed before we invite the World Health Organisation (WHO) for their assessment,” Johari said.
Scores for the assessment carried out using a WHO calculator at the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA), Amani Abeid Karume International Airport, Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA), Mwanza Airport and Songwe Airport stood at 73 to 81 per cent whereas the pass level is set at 80 per cent, he said.
“Passing the WHO assessment will mean growth of the air transport industry subsector in our country,” he specified.
Daniel Malanga, the chairman of the national team for the worldwide Collaborative Arrangement for the Prevention and Management of Public Health Events in Civil Aviation (CAPSCA) said areas of improvement include putting in place isolation areas at airports, effective documentation systems and involvement of stakeholders.
Malanga, the TCAA director for economic regulation, named some areas of strength as per the previous assessment as emergency contingency preparedness, walkthrough thermo scanners and running water.
“We are going to work on the areas of weakness urgently, conduct another mock assessment and invite WHO to conduct their own,” he elaborated.
Apart from TCAA, the national CAPSCA team is comprised of representatives from ministerial agencies covering Health, Works, Transport and Communication, Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Tourism and Natural Resources, Agriculture, Livestock as well as Disaster Management (PMO).
The call for action follows the declaration of Ebola outbreak in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo a "public health emergency of international concern" by WHO.
The current outbreak in parts of eastern DR Congo has so far killed more than 1,600 people. Last week, the first case was detected in Goma, home to more than one million people.
The PHEIC provision announced on Wednesday is the highest level of alarm the WHO can sound and has only been used four times previously.
This includes the Ebola epidemic that devastated parts of West Africa from 2014 to 2016, killing more than 11,000 people.
"It is time for the world to take notice," said WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus at a news conference in Geneva at which the emergency situation was declared.
The outbreak, the second largest in history, started in August 2018 and is affecting two provinces in DR Congo - North Kivu and Ituri.
More than 2,500 people have been infected and two-thirds of them have died.
It took 224 days for the number of cases to reach 1,000 but just a further 71 days to reach 2,000 in the current outbreak, observers noted.