Kenya considers lifting ban on Ebola-hit states
HEALTH & SCIENCEBy ALLY JAMAH | Thu,Sep 18 2014 00:00:00 EATBy ALLY JAMAH | Thu,Sep 18 2014 00:00:00 EAT
NAIROBI, KENYA: The Government is reviewing the possibility of lifting the ban on flights to West African countries worst affected by Ebola as international pressure mounts against the decision.
Wednesday, the Transport, Immigration and Health ministries of East African countries asserted that the travel bans should be lifted.
Kenya and Botswana are among the few countries that have banned movement to and from West Africa.
Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia gave the strongest indication yet of lifting the ban when he said reports by Kenyan doctors dispatched to West Africa confirm that travellers were being screened thoroughly.
"We are still monitoring the situation to assess the risks. But we will soon make a decision on the flights and travel bans. We agree in principle to lift the ban but only after we are fully satisfied that it is safe to do so without compromising Kenyans' health," he said.
World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Luis Gomes Sambo, said, during the meeting countries that have suspended flights and banned travellers from the region are compromising the deployment of international staff and supplies required to tackle the outbreak.
He added that the measures were not consistent with the recommendations of the International Health Regulations - Emergency Committee on the Ebola outbreak.
"There should be no general ban on international travel or trade. This position was reiterated jointly by WHO and the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the SADC and the Ecowas ministers of health and more recently by the Executive Council of the African Union," he said.
Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau admitted in the meeting Wednesday that the ban had badly affected trade.
And Macharia said the country had spent Sh350 million so far to strengthen its preparedness against Ebola, including boosting screening at points of entry and training health workers.
Ebola is currently affecting six African countries: Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The epidemic has been going on for the past nine months.
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