Speaking as he presided over the groundbreaking ceremony for the facility at the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH) in Kiambu County, President Kenyatta welcomed the WHO’s decision to set up the emergency center in Kenya.
Kenya is one of three African countries selected by the WHO to host a logistics hub that will be equipped with emergency medical personnel, supplies and equipment to support countries with emergencies in East Africa.
Senegal and Nigeria are the other two African countries selected to host the WHO centers that will also be centers of excellence in emergency medical training with the capacity to respond to more than 100 crises at once.
President Kenyatta commended WHO for launching the innovative new initiative to enhance the capacities of African countries to respond, in real time, to increasingly complex and numerous health emergencies.
“An expanded and more versatile emergency hub in Kenya will allow WHO to effectively and rapidly support Kenya and all countries in Eastern and Southern Africa by maintaining stockpiles of medical and logistical supplies.
“It is in this context that the WHO Regional Office for Africa sought to strengthen and expand the WHO emergency hub in Kenya, to coordinate high-quality responses to health emergencies,” the president said.
To facilitate the start of operations of the center, President Kenyatta said that the Government has allocated 30 acres of adjoining land to KUTRRH and has committed USD 5 million for the operation of the center.
“We will continue to work with other development partners to secure additional resources to support the completion and full commissioning of this center,” the president said.
He added that the Government has also provided WHO with free office space at the KUTRRH to accommodate the initial staffing component of up to 150 officers needed to begin preparations for the establishment of the center.
“This space has been identified in the KUTRRH Training, Research and Innovation (TRIC) building,” said President Kenyatta.
The Head of State expressed satisfaction that his directive to the National Treasury and the Kenya Revenue Authority to expedite customs clearance for medical supplies from the emergency logistics center has been put into effect.
“I am pleased to note that the Kenya Revenue Authority, in collaboration with other government agencies, has developed an end-to-end process flow map for this expedited clearance process to ensure the smooth operation of this facility.
“I wish to assure the WHO of Kenya’s unwavering support to strengthen the WHO as a global leader and coordinating entity for preparedness and response to pandemics and other health emergencies,” said the Head of State.
At the same time, President Kenyatta announced that Kenya has endorsed the legally binding International Pandemic Treaty under the WHO, which aims to strengthen global solidarity, high-level political commitment and equitable distribution of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics during pandemics, especially in the developing world.
Earlier, President Kenyatta inaugurated a cath lab and Executive Wing Onesmo Ole Moi-Yoi at Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital, saying the two facilities add to the growing complement of health in public hospitals.
KUTRRH Board Chairman Prof. Olive Mugenda thanked President Kenyatta for being instrumental in the development of the regional hospital.
“With their support, we have an integrated molecular imaging center which continues to be a great boon to many Kenyans and others in the region. So far we have scanned 1,200 Kenyans who would otherwise have gone to India to be scanned,” said Prof. Mugenda said.
He noted that the opening of the Cath Lab will significantly address cardiac issues such as coronary heart disease and heart attacks, while executive wing Onesmo Ole Moi-Yoi will help troubled patients in need of personalized care.
WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus.said the construction of the emergency logistics hub and center of excellence marks Kenya’s continued partnership with his organization and the United Nations at large.
“President Kenyatta, I would like to express my gratitude and admiration for your leadership and vision in supporting WHO and for sponsoring this half that will help build a stronger and more resilient Africa,” said the WHO Director-General.
He said the center will help tackle at least 100 health emergencies each year, such as outbreaks of cholera, yellow fever, meningitis, measles and Ebola, as well as humanitarian disasters, including the current hunger crisis.
Cabinet Secretary for Health Mutahi Kagwe also spoke at the function which was attended by Chief of Public Service Dr Joseph Kinyua and other senior Government officials as well as UN representatives.