Aviation public health technical assistance team visits 3 major airports in Zimbabwe Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport

Freeman Razemba Senior Reporter

A technical team from the Collaborative Arrangement for the Prevention and Management of Public Health Events in Civil Aviation (CAPSCA) is currently in the country visiting three airports to combine efforts to improve preparedness planning and response to public health events that affect the aviation sector.

Established in 2006, CAPSCA is a voluntary cross-sectorial, multi-organisational collaboration programme managed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) with support from the World Health Organization (WHO).

It brings together international, regional, national and local organizations to combine efforts to improve preparedness planning and response to public health events that affect the aviation sector such as: communicable diseases (pandemic influenza, Zika, Ebola, Coronavirus); chemical events (nuclear power-plant accidents); Bioterrorism; Volcanic ash; water and food safety; hygiene and waste management; Drones in humanitarian operations; and disaster management (natural or man-made disasters).

In a statement, the Airports Company of Zimbabwe (ACZ) confirmed the developments.

“A CAPSCA Technical Assistance Visit is currently taking place at three airports in Zimbabwe. These joint ICAO and WHO visits to States and airports are undertaken by a team of experts in aviation and public health.

“ICAO CAPSCA assessment team is in Zimbabwe to assist in strengthening the aviation sector’s capacity as well as strategies to manage Public Health Disasters. This is necessitated by lessons learnt from the impact of the recent COVID-19 Global pandemic. The process involves a comprehensive review of existing public health measures and protocols at Zimbabwe’s IHR Designated Airports—Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, Victoria falls International Airport and Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo International Airport,” ACZ said.

ICAO Chief of Aviation Medicine Dr Ansa Jordaan said, “ICAO is grateful for Zimbabwe’s commitment to CAPSCA and cooperating on response planning to manage public health emergencies. By working together, we can help ensure the health, safety and resilience of the global flight network.”

In a statement, the Air Traffic Controllers Association of Zimbabwe also said, “Well done Airports Company of Zimbabwe and all parties involved in the efforts to make the country’s airports safer and compliant with aviation public health protocols.”

CAPSCA arranges joint ICAO/WHO assistance visits to States and international airports, with a team of experts in aviation and public health to evaluate current capacity, identify areas which need strengthening, key priority actions and to facilitate training for aviation and health professionals who are involved in public health event preparedness planning in the aviation sector.

The visit usually takes two days and undertake a gap analysis of national/local preparedness plans against the relevant ICAO SARPs, the WHO International Health Regulations (2005), and associated guidance material to ensure that harmonized and relevant policies, training and communication procedures are in place. A confidential report is provided that helps the State to develop/improve its preparedness plan.

The visit is arranged upon request and on a cost-recovery basis, to date, approximately 80 Assistance Visits have been undertaken globally.

All States and international airports are invited to request an assistance visit to make sure that their preparedness level is up-to-date to manage public health events in aviation especially in view of the fact that disease outbreaks are occurring more often and spreading more faster, imposing significant costs on human life and the global economy.

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