, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 28 – Kenya is to host a regional conference on Ebola preparedness in the second week of September, Director of Medical Services (DMS) Nicholas Muraguri announced on Thursday.
The conference is being prepared as Muraguri told Capital FM News that the confirmed cases of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the region’s interconnectedness made a joint regional effort critical.
“What is key is that all countries have almost the same standards of approach in terms of reducing risks. That is the only way we can succeed. Because any truck coming from DRC may go through Rwanda and Uganda before coming to Kenya,” he explained.
He said Kenya would host the conference for, “experts and policy makers,” from Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia for two days in September and was liaising with the East African Community Secretariat in its organisation.
The DMS added that Kenya would also be offering its regionally advanced diagnostic services to further consolidate the Ebola preparedness effort.
Within Kenya’s borders, he said the Ministry of Health had already engaged the County Executives for Health and in particular those who hosted ports of entry, “we’re heading to meet them right now,” he said.
As far as the threat the DRC poses, he said Kenya had heightened its surveillance of both bus passengers and in particular truck drivers at the Busia entry point.
He said there were also working with the Busia county government to identify the health facility closest to the border, best equipped to isolate any suspected cases. “We are also preparing the closest referral hospital in case advanced care is needed,” he added.
He explained that any suspected cases would be isolated at the border while the blood samples were transported to one of Kenya’s three diagnostic centres. “The aim is to limit as much as possible the number of people who would be exposed,” he said.
All of which, he said, were lessons Kenya was learning from West Africa. “I don’t think it would have spread as far as it has if there was a regional approach in place,” he said as the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned the Ebola death toll in the region could reach 20,000 from 1,500 currently before it is contained and as the virus spread from Lagos to Port Harcourt in Nigeria.
Southern African countries, Kenya’s WHO representative Custodia Mandlhate said earlier in the month, have already met to map out a strategy should the Ebola virus cross their borders. READ: WHO urges greater Kenya scrutiny over Ebola.