Central and West Africa
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East Africa
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Kenya
Kenya Medical Association
Malaba
Ministry of Health
World Health Organisation

Scale up preparedness in wake of Ebola outbreak

Lest we forget, the World Health Organisation has always classified Kenya as a high transmission risk zone every time there is an Ebola outbreak, thanks to the country’s direct air and road transport link with the hotspots in Central and West Africa. That is why we must ramp up our preparedness. To start with, we must increase our level of alertness.

Scale up preparedness in wake of Ebola outbreak

World Health Organisation has always classified Kenya as a high transmission risk zone every time there is an Ebola outbreak. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Were it not for the speed and horror with which it kills people, a fresh outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus,  which has claimed at least 17 lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), would be taken as some distant breaking news. Not so when the virus in question bears the ability to spread fast and devastate the socio-economic fabric of any society it visits. Kenya is the transport hub of East Africa and with DRC is one of the landlocked countries that rely on our seaport and transport corridor for trade – meaning our exposure to events in the DRC is real.Lest we forget, the World Health Organisation has always classified Kenya as a high transmission risk zone every time there is an Ebola outbreak, thanks to the country’s direct air and road transport link with the hotspots in Central and West Africa. That is why we must ramp up our preparedness. To start with, we must increase our level of alertness.The Ministry of Health says Kenya is on high alert citing screening of travellers at entry points such as Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Busia and Malaba border posts.

But it should also not be lost on us that a country, which relies on travel and tourism industry as major sources of income, would say anything to boost confidence in the present circumstances. That’s why it is important that the preventive measures and public education campaigns that the ministry is talking about are made real and visible. For instance, a key preventive measure is regular hand washing. Are buckets of chlorine solution already placed in public places such as shops and malls? We may also want to know whether the Health ministry has reached out to its counterparts in the region to ensure similar preventive measures are being taken across the borders.Most importantly, we want to hear from independent voices such the Kenya Medical Association that screening that is ongoing at the points of entry are meticulous enough to detect Ebola cases. The idea is to seal all the possible loopholes. With floods ravaging parts of the country pushing millions of people to humanitarian support, Kenya is certainly in a weak position to handle another emergency in the proportion of an Ebola outbreak.

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