World Bank to finance Kenyan volunteers to combat Ebola

Margaret Kenyatta meets with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim at the Kenyatta National Hospital. (Image Courtesy)

The World Bank will finance Kenyan volunteers going to West Africa to help combat Ebola.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said Ebola is not an African problem but a global challenge.

Dr. Kim criticized governments which closed their borders instead of giving the required support to contain the outbreak.

Speaking during a briefing on Kenya’s preparedness for Ebola at the Kenyatta National Hospital, the World Bank President pointed out that Kenya has made a lot of progress in terms of health service delivery and is a shining example in the region.

He challenged other nations to follow the Kenyan example in building strong health systems which will help in tackling the problem.

He said devolution of health services was a bold step in taking services closer to citizens.

“I have been hearing bits and pieces of what is going on in Kenya. You have embarked on extremely bold measures in devolving health services,” said Dr. Kim

The World Bank President had accompanied First Lady Margaret Kenyatta on a tour of the Integrated Gender Based Violence Recovery Centre at Kenyatta National Hospital.

Mrs. Kenyatta commended the World Bank for availing resources to tackle gender based violence, female genital mutilation and maternal and child mortality.

She said the World Bank’s support demonstrates the importance it attaches to improving the well-being of women in the modern society.

On his part, Dr. Kim applauded the First Lady for her initiatives to reduce maternal and child mortality, saying her focus on issues facing women is extremely important.

He said the First Lady’s efforts in fighting retrogressive cultures against women are also commendable.

“I would really want to continue working together with you to stop some of these retrogressive cultures,” said Dr. Kim.

During a presentation on Kenya’s preparedness, Medical Services Director Nicholas Muraguri said so far 600 Kenyans have volunteered to travel to West African countries to support in tackling the Ebola outbreak.

He said among the volunteers are nurses, clinical officers and doctors.

Dr. Muraguri said Kenya requires KES 1.8bn which is equivalent to US$ 20mn dollars for the programme of tackling Ebola. So far, the Government has set aside US$ 7.5mn and also received US$ 2.7mn for the project from the World Bank.

Dr. Muraguri said the money will be utilized in surveillance, lab testing, case management and advocacy.

Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said Kenya is taking a lead in terms of regional approach and has incorporated the five East African Community member states and also the IGAD member nations in spearheading efforts aimed at combating Ebola.

“The country is taking the issue as a regional block and recently health ministers of EAC held a meeting on the issue and decided to form a technical team to deal with Ebola”, said Mr. Macharia.

Also present during the function were National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich among other senior Government officials.