Kenyan doctors demand safeguards over Ebola

October 16, 2014 2:32 pm
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"The healthcare workers are the front line soldiers in this war against Ebola and we are not going wait until this situation worsens for us to begin developing the frame work,” added Matendechero/FILE
“The healthcare workers are the front line soldiers in this war against Ebola and we are not going wait until this situation worsens for us to begin developing the frame work,” added Matendechero/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 16 – Kenyan doctors have stated that more needs to be done to minimise the growing risk of transmission of the Ebola disease.

Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Secretary General Sultani Matendechero regretted that despite the government forming a task force to handle the issue, none of their representatives have been included thus leaving them ‘in the dark’ over the goings on.

“In order to assure our members of their safety and minimised risk, the union demands to be centrally involved through immediate inclusion in the task force handling this issue. Much as we appreciate the substantial risk naturally associated with our work, we shall not allow our members to be exposed to preventable risk, ” stated the Secretary General.

Matendechero says their members have time and again sought to find out the efforts being made to ensure their safety but they have not had any information since they are not involved and hence the reason why they are demanding to be enjoined in the task force formed by the Health Ministry.

“We have to start preparing our healthcare system to be able to handle in case the first case arises. The healthcare workers are the front line soldiers in this war against Ebola and we are not going wait until this situation worsens for us to begin developing the frame work,” added Matendechero.

The doctors while lauding the government’s efforts insisted that a lot more needed to be done to sensitize Kenyans on the symptoms and ways of managing the disease and who to contact in a suspected case.

“The protocols have not been disseminated to every single health worker. The personal protective equipment are only present in a few hospitals. The first step in treating Ebola is to ensure you have standard precautions – basics are missing from our hospitals,” added Victor Ngani, KMPDU Chairman.

The doctors went on to say that stringent measures had to be taken to curtail importation of the disease with the transport, hotel and hospitality industry.

“There are efforts ongoing… the problem is that they may have translated on the ground to effectiveness – how many points of entry do we have into this country, our first isolated case in this country, was turned away from JKIA on landing from Liberia, this person went to Burundi and entered Kenya by road. Two weeks later we isolated him, so how safe are we?” posed Nelly Bosire, KMPDU Nairobi branch Chairperson.

Last Saturday, there was an Ebola scare after a 33-year old woman died at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport after flying from South Sudan, exposing the county’s unpreparedness since those handling her body were not wearing any protective gear.

Owing to this, the doctors urged the government to increase public awareness on ways of preventing re-infection, symptoms displayed by the virus and how to handle a person suspected to have contracted the virus.

The doctors intimated that the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) was in the process of constructing an isolation unit which would be completed in the next two months, all in the efforts of countering the Ebola menace which has now resulted in 4,447 deaths with the majority of victims coming from West Africa.

The World Health Organization (WHO) notes that there could be up to 10,000 new cases a week in the coming two months if efforts are not stepped up, adding that the rate of new infections in some areas is slowing down.

Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea have been hardest hit by the outbreak.

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