Kenya joins the fight against Ebola

by Elayne Wangalwa 0

The 315 health workers including nurses, doctors and clinical officers are part of 620 medical personnel from the four other nations – Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda – in the East African Community (EAC).

According to Dr. Victor Ngani chairman of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU), with the biggest contribution of the medical personnel coming from Kenya, the personnel will leave the country early next month to help combat the outbreak.

“If you were taken into the West African states, the health infrastructure was not very well established at the time [of the Ebola outbreak], a lot got broken down at the time as a result of Ebola and therefore they need a lot of help in terms of health workers to assist them,” Ngani said.

“The first step was to request for volunteers and I am happy to report that we had more 600 volunteers from the 315 Kenyans pledged which is an excellent thing. Right now the ministry is in the process of looking into volunteers to see who can go and qualify.”

KMPDU is keen on ensuring that the country has personnel in place, “That should we have a case to deal with, we have the experience to deal with it first hand,” Ngani said.

“If we do not control Ebola in West Africa, it is only a matter of time before it comes to Kenya and it is better we lend a hand to the people we are trying to support … The most important thing is how to handle Ebola cases, how to manage them and I think the most critical component is to use the personal protective equipment.”

The volunteers are also waiting for their salaries, health and life insurance arrangements to be finalised by the African union.

Meanwhile, the Kenyan government is taking precautionary measures to guarantee a limited spread of the Ebola virus. The government has set aside 680 million Kenyan shillings for an Ebola fund to go towards the purchase of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical supplies, training and orientation for medical personnel.

“How are we ready as a country? We have taken some strides. For one we have thermal scanners so that our ports of entry are automated and we can detect for example fever early enough. We have acquired an additional 5,000 kits and we have more than 6,000 on the way… we are making strides,” Ngani said.

The World Bank’s Ebola Impact Index indicated that the East African country has a five per cent chance of having to deal with the disease in the next one month if the three worst-affected West African countries fail to curb the spread of the virus.

Last month, the World Bank pledged financial support for health workers who will volunteer to aid in the fight against Ebola in West Africa.

The outbreak has claimed about 5,000 lives and over 10,000 suspected, probable and confirmed cases have been reported in West Africa.