Pandemic Response Exercise in Kenya

The following blog is by Brigadier General Stayce Harris, U.S. Africa Command’s mobilization reserve assistant to the commander:Jambo! As we enter the flu season, the importance of U.S. Africa Command’s recent pandemic response table top exercise held in Mombasa, Kenya remains significant. I was honored to provide the opening remarks to the exercise along with Andrew Mondoh, permanent secretary, Ministry of State for Special Programmes, Kenya Office of the President and Lee Brudvig, deputy chief of mission, U.S. Embassy Kenya.

Africa Command’s role, under the USAID Humanitarian Pandemic Preparedness initiative, is to assist in strengthening African partner military nations’ capacity to respond to a pandemic influenza disaster in the context of a larger national pandemic preparedness and response plan.

This successful scenario-driven exercise was the third of a five phase engagement that examined the issues associated with response to a global influenza pandemic by the Government of Kenya, non-governmental organizations, medical institutions and international/regional organizations.

A highlight of the exercise was our tour of Port Mombasa (KPA). After Durban, Mombasa is the best connected port in the region, with 17 shipping lines calling and direct connectivity to over 80 ports and serving the hinterland markets of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Northern Tanzania, Southern Sudan and Ethiopia. KPA managers highlighted their security measures in the event of contingencies and then answered questions how they would respond in the event of a pandemic influenza disaster. These shared experiences and lessons learned were invaluable as we must keep in mind that health and security are linked together.

Asante sana to the Government of Kenya, Kenya Armed Forces, our African partners, the US Embassy in Kenya, the United States Agency for International Development-Mission in Kenya, our staff at US Africa Command and the Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine for working together to coordinate and organize this important partnering event!

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