Health officials hopeful Kenya will remain Ebola-free

by Elayne Wangalwa 0

The deadly virus has claimed nearly 1,000 lives and more than 1,700 confirmed and suspected cases have been reported in West Africa. According to Doctor Victor Ngani, chairman at Kenya Medical Union, the East African nation is taking great strides to guarantee a limited spread of the Ebola virus.

“The ministry of health has put in a couple of measures that will generally go a long way in improving our [Kenya’s] control measures. For example, in the recent weeks, they [ministry of health] have increased the screening [of the virus] and now they are screening passengers as they board airplanes in West Africa,” Ngani said.

Last week a suspected case of Ebola in the country tested negative. A man who was on transit in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, from the Entebbe International Airport in Uganda was noted to be unwell with symptoms suggestive of the deadly virus.

(READ MORE: UPDATE: Uganda tests first possible Ebola victim)

“There are three airlines involved in screening [which are] Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airways and Rwanda Air. At the same time when they used to screen people who were only coming into the country, they are now screening people on transit as well,” Ngani said.

Last week Kenya’s ministry of health said it had deployed personnel and provided necessary equipment at airports, border points and at ports to screen all entrants.

(READ MORE: African airlines take precautions against Ebola)

“In addition to this they have created a committee which involves people from the migration department and the ministry of health including other institutions dealing with healthcare provisions. This is particularly at the Kenyatta National Hospital which has placed an emergency response team and set up an isolation unit. So in terms of preparation they have put in some measures but you can never say it is enough,” Ngani noted.

Kenya has built laboratories and trained staff, among other measures to strengthen the country’s capacity to deal with Ebola and other haemorrhagic fevers. The government has spent 100 million Kenyan shillings to prepare for infectious haemorrhagic fevers.

The virus’, which spreads by contact with infected blood and bodily fluids, mortality rate is at around 60 per cent. However, in the past some outbreaks have had a 90 per cent mortality rate. The deadly virus first appeared in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sudan.

WHO announced that a life-saving Ebola vaccine will be ready by 2015.