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Kenyans enhance surveillance to combat health emergencies

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan ministry of health and partners have commenced infrastructure upgrades and capacity development to enhance surveillance of health-related emergencies like bio-terrorism and spread of zoonotic diseases, officials said on Friday.

Director of Medical Services, Jackson Kioko said that Kenya has prioritized investments in modern technology and skilled manpower to strengthen detection of public health threats that have spiked against a backdrop of environmental changes, migration and urbanization.

“Kenya is committed to strengthen our capacity on real time surveillance of health emergencies linked to movement of toxic materials and outbreak of infectious diseases,” Kioko remarked at a forum in Nairobi.

The forum was attended by policymakers and health experts to evaluate Kenya’s capacity to respond to public health risks in line with guidelines set out by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Kioko noted that Kenya ranks among African countries with a robust detection and reporting system for health emergencies.

“In the last decade, Kenya has made strides in the area of law enforcement and adoption of electronic surveillance technology to tackle threats of bio-terrorism and zoonotic diseases,” said Kioko.

He added that domestic financing, improved coordination, research and advocacy has improved Kenya’s capacity to tackle public health risks linked to medical waste and antibiotic resistance.

Kenya has developed a comprehensive action plan to enhance its capacity to respond to zoonotic diseases like Ebola and Bird Flu that are a recurrent public health risk across Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Director of Medical Services said the East African nation has intensified surveillance at ports of entry to prevent spread of virulent epidemics transmitted by animals.

“Kenya has learned vital lessons from the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the recent outbreak of Bird Flu in Uganda. Our surveillance systems are up to date to ward off those epidemics,” said Kioko.

Multilateral institutions have partnered with Kenya to upgrade its surveillance infrastructure in the wake of new public health risks.

The WHO Country Representative in Kenya, Rudi Eggers said that Kenya must establish solid measures to enhance rapid detection and response to public health threats linked to increased cross border travel and trade.


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