Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania on Wednesday, September 21, 2022.
TZ, Mozambique seek to boost security cooperation amid looming terrorist threat
President Samia Suluhu Hassan is in Mozambique for a three-day state visit as Tanzania seeks to boost defence and security cooperation with the southern African nation that is currently immersed in counter-terrorism efforts in its northernmost province of Cabo Delgado.
Since 2017, an Islamist insurgency has been terrorizing Cabo Delgado, putting authorities in Tanzania, which shares a border with Mozambique, on high alert. Terrorist incidents have also been reported in Mtwara, a southern region of Tanzania which borders Mozambique.
Known locally as Al-Shabaab, the group is reported to have committed heinous acts like beheadings, abducting children and destroying schools and hospitals, leading to a humanitarian disaster and over a million displaced Mozambicans.
Tanzania is part of the SADC Standby Force launched on August 10, 2022, by Filipe Nyusi, President of Mozambique, whose aim is to support Mozambique’s forces in fighting against the insurgents.
Tanzania is also the host of the Southern African Development Community Regional Counter Terrorism Centre (SADC RCTC), launched on March 1, 2022, whose goal is to ensure that there is a dedicated structure to coordinate regional counter-terrorism efforts in the region.
According to a statement by the director of presidential communications Zuhura Yunus, Tanzania and Mozambique signed two Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on security and defence cooperation. Details of the agreements, however, were not shared with the public.
However, Samia’s visit to Mozambique came just two days after the National Assembly ratified the OAU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism on September 19, 2022.
Speaking in the parliament, Home Affairs Minister Hamad Masauni noted that while it is true that Tanzania has not been affected by terrorism as hard as its neighbours in the region, the country is already observing “signs” of the spread of violent extremism.
“There are signs showing the spread of violent extremism in various parts of the country, leading people to join terrorist groups outside the country,” Mr Masauni told the parliament. “This puts our national security in danger. There are risks of terrorist activities to take place in Tanzania.”
The OAU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism, adopted at Algiers in 1999, had put in place a solid framework to deal with the scourge of terrorism. It not only defined terrorism but also laid out areas of cooperation among the member states as well as guidelines for extradition.
Govt: We have not recorded any Ebola cases in Tanzania
The government said on Wednesday that it has not recorded any Ebola cases in the country as neighbouring Uganda reports the killer disease has already been confirmed in Mubende district in the central part of the country.
On Tuesday, Uganda confirmed the case after testing a sample taken from a 24-year-old man. It followed an investigation by the National Rapid Response team of six suspicious deaths that have occurred in the district this month. There are currently eight suspected cases who are receiving care in a health facility.
Deputy Minister of Health Dr Godwin Mollel said in a statement on Wednesday that though no case of the deadly disease has been reported in the country, the government has put in place all necessary measures needed to contain it.
The measures include the directive issued to health officers at regional and district council levels to intensify health awareness campaigns, closely monitoring of disease, professional examination and ensure the availability of necessary medical and preventive equipment in their respective areas.
“I advise the public to take precautions against this disease, including by washing hands with clean water and soap, avoiding touching the body or discharges of an Ebola patient and avoiding unnecessary movements, especially visiting areas affected by this disease,” a statement quoted Dr Mollel as saying.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Ebola is a severe, often fatal illness affecting humans and other primates.
It has six different species, three of which (Bundibugyo, Sudan and Zaire) have previously caused large outbreaks, the UN organisation says.
Case fatality rates of the Sudan virus have varied from 41 per cent to 100 per cent in past outbreaks, the WHO says. Early initiation of supportive treatment has been shown to significantly reduce deaths from Ebola.
Partnership launched to expand maternal health emergency transportation system in Tanzania
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is partnering with Vodafone Foundation to expand a maternal health emergency transportation system in Tanzania with the hope of securing hospital transit for thousands of women in the East African nation.
A press statement released on Tuesday said that the partnership, which also involves the government of Tanzania, was entered during USAID’s “Democracy Delivers” event on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly that took place recently in the US.
USAID and the Vodafone Foundation have committed about $15 million ($10 million from Vodafone Foundation and $5 million from USAID) for the initiative. On its part, the government has committed to covering all transport costs and providing all dispatch staff from day one.
Maternal mortality rates are stubbornly high in Tanzania, according to the statement. In rural communities, an ambulance may only be available for 1 in 10 maternal emergencies, it added.
As part of a 2013-2020 maternal health program in the Sengerema/Buchosa and Shinyanga districts, Vodafone Foundation and USAID created a free ride-sharing program for pregnant women.
Under the program, a woman undergoing a maternal emergency calls a toll-free number, a health worker records her information, the dispatch system locates the nearest hospital and nearest private taxi driver, and the driver is paid upon delivery of the patient to the health centre.
The local governments in both pilot districts are now fully funding the programs – which cost less than the price of one ambulance – and the programs have transported over 15,000 women and newborns to date.
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