By Sophia Nur and Gloria Macha
Tanzania has more than 60 formal border crossings and numerous informal ones that span eight neighboring countries and an extensive maritime border. This high-volume movement of populations significantly increases the risk for disease transmission. The U.S. government, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Global Health Security Agenda, supports countries like Tanzania to prevent, detect, and respond to public health threats, to align with International Health Regulations’ core capacities.
Since 2015, CDC has collaborated with the government of Tanzania (GOT) to strengthen border health measures at points of entries (POE) to identify ill travelers and mitigate transnational disease transmission. Shortly after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tanzania lifted travel restrictions which required significant support to POEs to mitigate the spread of the virus. The strengthening of POEs for COVID-19 also prepares the country for other health threats including ebola, monkeypox, or other infectious diseases that may endanger the public.
CDC has supported GOT over the past few years through both technical assistance as well as infrastructure support. In 2021, CDC, in partnership with the African Medical and Research Foundation, provided approximately $80,000 of support with information and communication technology equipment, expanded private testing booths at the Julius Nyerere International Airport, and added more than 50 surge staff members to enhance travelers screening. Earlier this year, CDC helped upgrade the electronic traveler’s surveillance portal called AfyaMsafiri to enhance detection of ill travelers for compliance with the Trusted Travelers Program inside the African Union and East Africa Community. CDC and a local Tanzanian partner Management Development for Health donated additional information and communications technology equipment (worth approximately $77,500) in October 2022 to support seven POEs that will further strengthen electronic system readiness to manage health information of visitors entering and leaving Tanzania. These border health efforts have helped to identify public health threats at the source, mitigating spread, and ultimately protecting the communities, and bolstering the work of the U.S. mission in Tanzania.
Dr. Sophia Nur is the associate director for communication and policy and Gloria Macha is a health policy analyst in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Tanzania country office.