KENYA—Kenya is currently planning to create the Kenya National Public Health Institute and 29 emergency operations centers across the country.

These details came forth revealed on October 8 during the official start of the 8th AFENET Scientific Conference in Mombasa.

Dr. Sultani Matendechero, the Acting Deputy Director General of Health of the State Department for Public Health and Professional Standards, represented the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Nakhumicha S. Wafula, at the occasion.

These measures, according to the ministry, are in line with the Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA), which emphasizes universal health coverage (UHC), digital health services, and universal social health insurance.

The roll-out of UHC-Beta will provide 2 million indigents with access to social insurance schemes, as well as the recruitment of 500 healthcare staff and the provision of free maternity services to 1,285,720 women through Linda Mama.

There will also be an Emergency Medical Treatment Fund and the implementation of a digital health platform in all levels 4, 5, and 6 public hospitals.

Dr. Matendechero cited CS Nakhumincha’s statement, in which he emphasized Kenya’s commitment to these programs and the ambitious program aimed at spreading UHC to every village, including over 100,000 community health promoters.

Several crucial problems were also addressed at the conference, including attempts to enhance local health product production and debates on health issues related to climate change.

Other topics discussed were the investigation of economic possibilities, cross-border surveillance, antimicrobial stewardship, and the digitization of health systems to benefit public health.

Numerous emerging and re-emerging disease epidemics of worldwide concern have endangered the East African region, with the potential to spread across borders. Polio, yellow fever, Ebola virus illness, Marburg viral fever, Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever, hepatitis E virus, cholera, measles, meningitis, and Rift Valley fever are among these diseases.

The likelihood of disease outbreaks is exacerbated by growing cross-border trade, movement of humans, animals, and trade items, high population density, the effects of climate change, proximity to the Congo basin hotspot, and the peculiarities of the Rift Valley ecosystem.

This calls for the implementation of WHO Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) measures to combat epidemic-prone diseases.

There is also a need to increase disease monitoring and outbreak response core capacities for improved regional public health security.

The East African Integrated Disease Surveillance Network (EAIDSNet) is a regional collaborative initiative of EAC partner state national ministries.

In partnership with national health research and academic institutes, the initiative is responsible for human and animal health.

The project’s overarching purpose is to reduce morbidity and mortality from prevalent communicable diseases in East Africa.

This is accomplished by establishing a powerful network capable of generating meaningful epidemiological information for early warning of approaching epidemics, as well as facilitating joint disease control planning and implementation.

The conference also emphasized the value of collaboration and evidence-based decision-making in building more resilient African public health systems.

Kenya’s excellent training of over 250 epidemiologists reflects the country’s determination to reach the World Health Organization’s recommendation of one epidemiologist for every 200,000 people.

Another important topic discussed at the meeting was the health risks caused by climate change. Disease outbreaks and vector control are two of these difficulties.

Aside from the well-documented rise in global temperatures, climate change is causing a serious public health catastrophe.

Northern Kenya, which is already facing extreme environmental changes, is bearing the brunt of this issue as diseases conveyed by insects, notably mosquito-borne diseases, worsen.

Isiolo County, located in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid region, is experiencing an increase in diseases such as yellow fever, malaria, dengue fever, and Rift Valley fever as global temperatures rise and rainfall becomes more irregular.

A spike in yellow fever infections, for example, was observed between February and March 2022, following heavy rains earlier in the year.

In addition, from December 2020 to January 2021, the county saw many outbreaks of Rift Valley disease.

Low-lying areas around the Ewaso Nyiro river basin, which are prone to flooding and thus ideal for mosquito reproduction, were impacted the hardest.

Participants addressed potential African solutions to health-related concerns caused by climate change, with an emphasis on research and evidence-based decision-making.

To improve public health outcomes, antimicrobial stewardship, domestic health investment, and health system modernization were advocated.

These initiatives are crucial steps toward a healthier and more productive African population.

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