Security and health authorities have been urged to step up surveillance systems to guard against bioterrorism and global pandemics that have devastating effects on national security.
A bioterrorism attack is the deliberate release of viruses, bacteria, or other germs to cause illness or death.
Status of systems to detect and intercept possible bioterrorism attack as well border surveillance to prevent outbreaks of global pandemics like Ebola or SARS featured yesterday at a meeting in Nairobi involving military chiefs and health officials.
“Kenya can easily be exposed to pandemics and epidemics considering we have about 126 flights a day at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport,” said Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki during the Health and Security conference.
Ms Kariuki asserted the need to focus on interrogating the health surveillance system to detect and intercept signs of a possible bioterrorism attack.
The fact that Kenya is not certified polio-free despite mass immunisation was also of concern at the forum.
"Military personnel have been used before to control the spread of infections and pandemics within and outside the country," said Maj Gen GK Ng’ang’a, Kenya Defense Forces director of medical services.
Health had been recognised as security issue for the first time in Kenya by the UNDP human development report in 1994 that confirmed HIV/Aids as a killer virus.
Defence CS Raychelle Omamo acknowledged the need to focus more on health security concept.
“Health security is the capacity to minimise the susceptibility of public health threats such as pandemics, epidemics and emerging infectious diseases,” said Ms Omamo.
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