ADDIS ABABA, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- East African countries on Friday agreed to step up cross border collaboration against major public-health perils, with particular emphasis on joint efforts to contend the spread of tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria.
Health-sector officials and experts drawn from East African countries, who have gathered under the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) umbrella in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, agreed to intensify cross-border collaboration against major public-health perils during an ongoing high-level meeting that envisaged establishing an inter-country referral mechanism among the eight IGAD member states.
IGAD's Director of Health and Social Development Division, Fathia Alwan, also emphasized during the regional meeting the need to deepen strategic ties among East African countries towards the betterment of public health in the region.
"Strengthening regional coordination and collaboration for effective HIV, Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria service delivery in the cross-border areas and refuge settings are among the priority focuses of IGAD's HIV, TB and Malaria Strategic Plan for 2018 to 2025," Alwan said.
The IGAD director also urged IGAD member countries to seize various opportunities presented under regional, continental and regional initiatives that aimed at boosting cross-border healthcare cooperation, mainly the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
"The Global Fund grant has a component for cross border collaboration that aimed at facilitating a continuum of care across the border areas and improving health collaboration through revitalizing the coordination mechanism and having functional referral mechanisms,"
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is an international financing and partnership organization that aims to attract, leverage and invest additional resources to end the epidemics of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to support attainment of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The ongoing high-level regional meeting on cross-border cooperation on health mainly aimed at strengthening collaboration strategies across border areas through the revitalization of already existing and established cross border platforms while improving linkages between refugee health settings and cross border areas thanks to the grant received from the Global Fund, it was noted.
The meeting, which brought together health sector policymakers and experts from IGAD member states in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, is expected to create joint agreement on the role and responsibilities of a coordination committee, the operation modalities for the cross border collaboration, as well as country-level plans for rolling out the cross border health collaboration, it was indicated.