Tanzania has a plan, in fact, two plans to enable emergency response operations in the event of a pandemic event. U.S. Africa Command, in collaboration with the U.S. Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine, partnered with their Tanzania counterparts to develop and deliver two disaster preparedness plans during a two-day symposium here, May 15.
Michael Hryschyshyn, Chief of Health and Humanitarian Affairs and Erik Threet, Program Manager, represented U.S. Africa Command as members of the U.S.-Tanzania team that developed two disaster preparedness plans, the Tanzania National Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan and the Tanzania Peoples Defence Forces Pandemic Contingency Plan.
The plans were presented to the Government of Tanzania in a ceremony whose participants included The Honorable Alfonso E. Lenhardt, U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania, Shamsi Vuai Nahodha, Tanzania Minister of Defence and National Service, and Lieutenant General Sylvester Rioba, Director of Disaster Management from the Office of the Tanzania Prime Minister.
In his remarks during the ceremony, Ambassador Lenhardt noted that “this program and the mutual work and cooperation that has been done to devise this plan underscores our strong commitment to be prepared to meet natural disaster and pandemic threats before they arise."
Hryshchyshyn thanked the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania for the opportunity to partner with them in developing the plans. He remarked on the team’s interest to take the next steps which include developing, validating and executing sector specific plans.
“The primary goal of the U.S. Africa Command's Disaster Preparedness Program is to support civil-military relationships in African partner nations and strengthen coordination in disaster planning and response” said Hryshchyshyn. Noting observations made by the team during the work sessions, he stated, “the clock is ticking and scientists are saying that it is not a matter of if, but when the next global pandemic happens.” He emphasized that the collaboration underscored the critical importance of having a holistic plan in place that clearly defines roles and responsibilities of government, military and civil society to mitigate and respond to a complex humanitarian emergency such as a pandemic outbreak.
Dr. Charles Beadling, CDHAM’s Director stated, “A pandemic is not the most likely disaster you will have to prepare to respond to, but there are several strong arguments for beginning with planning for a pandemic disaster. First, the preparations you make will carry over to other disaster situations. Key considerations, such as communication, coordination, transportation, energy and power, health, security, dealing with displaced populations – are critical in any disaster situation. Therefore, planning and preparation for a pandemic will greatly assist your preparations for any disaster.”
Dr. Beadling added, “You represent those essential sectors of government, civilian and military, as well as the private sector. Everyone must know their role in preparedness and response, and whom they need to coordinate with from other sectors. Having a plan and exercising it allows everyone to learn how to work together to prepare and respond.”