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MOH urges concerted efforts to boost epidemics, pandemics preparedness

PS Mary Muthoni.

The Ministry of Health has called for collaborative efforts to enhance epidemic and pandemic preparedness response.

In a statement on Thursday, Public Health Principal Secretary Mary Muthoni underscored the critical need for robust health systems capable of preventing, detecting, and responding promptly to outbreaks.

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The PS noted that COVID-19 pandemic brought out the need for a strong public healthcare calling for early warning, prediction, and surveillance systems to prepare for future crisis.

“We witnessed firsthand the far-reaching implications of epidemics on a nation’s social fabric, economic security, and overall well-being. In response to this imperative, the World Health Organization (WHO) advocates for governments to actively support initiatives aimed at fortifying emergency and epidemic preparedness systems,” the PS stated.

In marking the International Day of Epidemics preparedness, Muthoni said Kenya has made remarkable achievements in health security by employing diverse surveillance systems comprising routine data, community deaths, events, and entry points screening.

In addition, the PS noted that environmental and wastewater samples are rigorously collected and tested to detect potential infections circulating in communities.

“Our commitment to advancing diagnostic capabilities, transitioning from molecular diagnostics to genetic sequencing, has significantly strengthened pandemic prevention efforts,” Muthoni stated.

“The expansion of laboratory capacity, boasting over 100 PCR laboratories nationwide and a network of public health laboratories with 11 national reference laboratories, underscores our dedication to staying at the forefront of health security,” she added.

Muthoni revealed that Kenya is currently training a versatile SURGE team, comprising professionals from diverse disciplines, have resulted in the training of 120 nationally and 700 sub-nationally through the FELTP program.

“This ongoing training equips them to effectively respond to pandemics at both local and regional levels, complementing routine capacity building on the Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) Strategy,” she said.

The Public Health Emergency Operations Centre (PHEOC) for national level coordination, coupled with the establishment of 18 county-level emergency operations centres, has ensured a swift and coordinated response to health-related emergencies.

In addition, the PS noted institutions like Kenya BIOVAX and the Kenya National Public Health Institute (KNPHI) have played crucial role in strengthening Preparedness, Prevention, Response, and Recovery (PPPR) capacities, focusing on vaccine manufacturing and program expansion.

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