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January 22, 2021: Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe (centre) when he received 3 smart robots from UNDP with funding from the Japanese government. He is accompanied by the agency's officials.

Capital Health

Kenya launches robots to cushion health workers from COVID-19 risks

Kagwe said the three robots named Jasiri (courageous), Shujaa (Hero) and Tumaini (Hope) will revolutionize response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

NAIROBI, Jan 22 – Kenya’s health ministry on Friday launched smart anti-epidemic robot technology to reduce exposure of health workers to COVID-19 patients under their care.

Mutahi Kagwe, cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Health said the robots will be deployed at the country’s main referral hospital, the Kenyatta National Hospital and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. 

“They will assist in temperature screening, disinfection, communication of health messages and data capture,” Kagwe said during the launch of the robots in Nairobi. He said the robots will fast track traveler clearance at airports since they have the capacity of screening the body temperature of up to 200 persons at the airport per minute. 

“I have every confidence that all of our travelers, foremost the tourists visiting Kenya, will appreciate the ability of these robots,” said Kagwe.He said that Kenya is open to innovations that add value to the health care services in the country amid the rising disease burden.

Kagwe said the three robots named Jasiri (courageous), Shujaa (Hero) and Tumaini (Hope) will revolutionize response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

He said that Jasiri is named in honor of the courage that health workers have shown in serving populations while risking their lives while Shujaa represents 32 health workers who have since died from the pandemic and those that continue to heed protective measures put in place by the government.

“As for Tumaini, he represents our hope – our collective hope that through our continued adherence to the rules and our inoculation against COVID-19, we shall overcome the pandemic and return to our preferred state of normalcy,” said Kagwe.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Kenya has embraced technology to digitally clear truckers and travelers through a regional cargo and driver tracking system as a means of minimizing contact with border patrol. 

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The east African nation recently launched an online application called Jitenge to boost inbound tracking and also to protect capacity at the main airport.

To date, 3,000 health care workers have been infected by COVID-19 in the line of duty while 32 have succumbed to the disease, according to the ministry of health.

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