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Doctors call on govt to increase efforts to tackle Ebola

17 October 2014, 08:19

Nairobi - Kenyan doctors on Thursday called on the government to increase its level of preparedness to deal with the Ebola virus, which has claimed more than 4,000 lives in West Africa.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union (KMPDU) told a news conference in Nairobi that the government should put adequate measures in place to ensure the safety of the doctors and the public in case the hemorrhagic fever is detected in the country.

"Much as we appreciate the substantial risk naturally associated with our work, we are not going to be exposed to preventable risks," said KMPDU Secretary General Sultani Matendechero, warning that the number of patients infected with the Ebola hemorrhagic fever is expected to rise to over half a million in two months.

Matendechero called on the government to deploy more stringent measures to restrict importation of the disease within the transport, hotel and hospitality industry, adding more efforts needed to sensitize Kenyans on the symptoms and ways of managing the disease and who to contact in a suspected case.

"Lack of knowledge on Ebola often leads to misdiagnosis. Such misdiagnosis may lead to the existence of Ebola in Kenya without its detection," Matendechero said.

The doctors' concerns came as East African leaders announced Wednesday they are working on a common regional strategy to tackle the Ebola virus.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame said Ebola is devastating economies in West Africa and beyond, calling on radical measures to curtail its spread.

"We have recognized that this is not an African but a global problem that requires global effort. Unless effectively addressed, it is already damaging our good prospects," Kenyatta said at the East African Business Summit in Rwanda which was televised across the East African countries.

"Our airlines are suffering a lot of cancellations by travellers and tourists in particular," he said, noting that although the Ebola crisis had not directly affected East Africa, the partner states are working on a common approach to address the crisis.

Kenya imposed a travel ban to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone in August due to severity of Ebola pandemic. Government officials clarified that the travel ban was subject to review.

Also read: Kenya rules out Ebola case following scare at airport

The East African nation has not reported any Ebola case since the epidemic was declared an international health emergency in August. However, state officers have so far managed to nab over four suspected cases that turned negative.

The doctors called on the government to increase resources that should be channeled towards preparedness in handling the disease.

"We need proper isolation rooms with the requisite equipment to ensure the safety of the doctors and other patients," KMPDU official Nelly Bosire said, adding that three existing isolation units are makeshift.

The medics also want their members to undergo structured training on how to deal with cases of Ebola and other haemorrhagic fevers as part of the preparedness and expressed concerns that Kenya is not in a position to tackle the deadly virus if it breaks out in the country.

 - Xinhua

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