, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 14 – Plans are underway to expand the ratio of health workers in security services to ensure effective response to health emergencies such as cholera which remains active in seven counties.
National Government Spokesperson, Eric Kiraithe, told Capital FM News on Thursday that health facilities manned by security officers are part of the government’s contingency plan to contain diseases like Cholera and Marburg, in the event of an outbreak.
“The government is in the process of expanding the quotient of health workers in other professions like the Kenya Defence Forces, National Police Service, and National Youth Service so that they can easily come in and cover the gap,” Kiraithe said.
“We’re also working very closely with private institutions including mission hospitals that have in the past been able to compliment government health services in many areas in the country,” he added.
Responding the government’s readiness to tackle health emergencies such as the Marburg virus which is active in neighboring Uganda and which Kenya remains on high alert to prevent from entering its borders; Kiraithe said a multi-agency team was monitoring the disease especially at entry points to keep the nation safe.
According to Kiraithe, the health sector is also on high alert to deter the Plague outbreak which is active in Madagascar adding that preparedness and preventive actions are ongoing.
Monitoring was particularly heightened in October when a Ugandan with the Ebola-like virus whose incubations last 21 days was said to have sought treatment from a traditional healer in Trans Nzoia County.
Due to the ever-increasing danger of an outbreak, the World Health Organization set apart $ 500,000 in October as part of its efforts to prevent an outbreak.
With regards to the Cholera outbreak which according to a Kenya Humanitarian Report published by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on November 4 had recorded 3,518 cases resulting to 66 deaths nationwide, Kirathe said the government was working on ensuring access to safe drinking water in affected areas.
In order to eliminate Cholera, Kiraithe said plans for the construction of at least 200 dams nationwide were underway to enhance access to clean and safe drinking water.
“Quite a number of dams are in progress and within the next five years we are not expecting a shortage of water to a level that nutrition levels will be very low or drinking water will not be accessible,” he said.
“We may have a shortfall in terms of irrigation water but as far as safe drinking water is concerned, every projection shows that we can achieve safe drinking water for all by 2020,” Kiraithe assured.
According to UNICEF’s Kenya Humanitarian Report (November 4), 215,737 people in Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL) counties of Baringo, Garissa, Marsabit, Samburu, Turkana, Tana River and Wajir gained permanent access to safe drinking water during the reporting period.
UNICEF noted that the increase in permanent access to safe drinking water was made possible through repair of boreholes.
Earlier on, Kirathe said the government was working towards enhancing road safety amid an outcry over multiple road accidents in December alone that have so far claimed some seventy lives.
He urged road safety enforcement officers to intensify surveillance on roads identified as hotspots to de-escalate the surging rate of road carnage.
Public Service Vehicle drivers, Kiraithe said must be cautious of the welfare of passages aboard their vehicles and endeavor to adhere to set traffic regulations.
“Law enforcement officers must go an extra mile during this festive season. We can have the best roads designed but if the laws are not enforced and those carrying passengers do not become conscious of the necessity of safe driving, the problem may not be solved,” he said.
He affirmed the government’s position that those flouting traffic rules must face tough punishment that can act as a deterrent for potential offenders.
“The discipline of Kenyan drivers has a direct functional relationship with the expected consequence when breaking the law.”
Kiraithe also urged passengers to insist on adherence to traffic rules whenever PSV drivers attempt to flout the law.
“Bad driving is not a game, it is tinkering with death,” he said adding that the government while calling for road users to be responsible will not abdicate its duty to enforce the law.
Of the 70 lives that have been lost in road accidents so far in December, the Nakuru-Eldoret highway accounts for the lion’s share.