Heads of state of the East African Community (EAC) on Tuesday urged member states to support local production of essential medical products and supplies as part of efforts to combat COVID-19 pandemic in the region.
They urged member states to support the local production such as masks, sanitizers, soaps, processed foods and ventilators and to prioritize regional value supply chains, said a joint communique issued after they met at a virtual consultative conference on the regional response to COVID-19.
The meeting, chaired by Rwandan President and EAC summit chairperson Paul Kagame, was also attended by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir.
They agreed to adopt a harmonized system for certification and sharing of COVID-19 test results, the communique said.
Noting that information sharing is key during the COVID-19 pandemic, the presidents directed the ministers responsible for health, trade and transport to finalize and adopt a regional digital surveillance and tracking system for truck drivers and crew on COVID-19 for immediate use, it said.
The presidents also noted the region’s key economic sectors such as agriculture, trade, manufacturing and industry, tourism, hospitality and entertainment are experiencing a slowdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The presidents also directed member states to facilitate farmers to continue farming activities during the pandemic and post-COVID-19 period, support agro-processing and supply chains as an import substitution measure and establish special purpose financing schemes for small and medium enterprises to cushion them from the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic, according to the communique.
The EAC countries closed their border entry points to incoming and outgoing traffic in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19, but movement of cargo continues. Enditem