Kenya borders prone to Ebola threat: WHO

by Elayne Wangalwa 0

Kenya is a high risk area for Ebola transmission which is affecting West African states, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

East Africa’s biggest economy receives more than 76 flights weekly at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, which is the region’s main transit point for travellers to and from West Africa making it vulnerable to the recent outbreak.

“These flights are mainly from Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and Rwanda Air. There is therefore heavy human traffic between the affected countries and Kenya hence the need for enhanced preparedness for prevention, possible introduction of the virus into the country,” James Macharia, Kenya’s Cabinet secretary for health noted.

(READ MORE: Health officials hopeful Kenya will remain Ebola-free)

However, the country’s national carrier, Kenya Airways has continued with its flight operation within the region despite calls for travel restrictions to be imposed on countries affected by the current Ebola outbreak. The airline has said they have instituted several additional precautionary measures following the Ebola endemic.

WHO declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a public health emergency of international concern and provided specific actions to be followed by countries affected with Ebola, those at high risk of transmission and all other unaffected states.

(READ MORE: African airlines take precautions against Ebola)

During a press briefing in Nairobi, WHO country representative, Custodia Mandlhate said, “If we consider the geographical state of Kenya, we can easily classify [the country] as group two, ‘high transmission risk’. What is being done at the points of entry is therefore commendable.”

Kenya’s health ministry has requested the country’s treasury 533 million Kenyan shillings to fight the Ebola epidemic, which is 523 million Kenyan shillings more than what the government allocated during the last outbreak in Uganda in 2012. The money will go towards the purchase of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical supplies, training and orientation for medical personnel.

“One hundred health workers will be trained on Ebola management and an additional 200 will be trained for the next three weeks. We are currently exploring the possibility of holding a sub-regional meeting involving all member states of the East African community and Ethiopia to develop a common approach to the trend host of Ebola outbreak in West Africa,” Macharia said.

The country is also taking great strides to warranty a limited spread of the Ebola virus and have formed a task force of public experts and other stakeholders who are currently assessing the outbreak.