• It will bring together about 250 participants comprising public health officials, veterinary experts and military
• Officials assure public that currently, the five East African countries are free of Ebola
Kenya plans to hold a major drill in Namanga to prevent the spread of the deadly ebola, which has killed at least 1,200 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The simulation will be carried out jointly with Tanzania from June 11-14. The DRC shares a border with Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda.
The drive will assume the outbreak of a fictitious, highly infectious virus, which causes severe fever and bleeding, resulting in increased number of cases and deaths.
Officials assured the public that the five East African countries are free of Ebola and there is increased surveillance at border points.
"All sites will be well-marked and passengers will be informed about the exercise so that passers-by will know what is going on, when they see the military, ambulances and people in protective gear and can thus behave accordingly and contribute to the success of the exercise," EAC acting head of health Dr Michael Katende said.
"This will help in assessing and building EAC secretariat’s and partner states’ capacities to prepare and respond to an ebola-like situation."
The exercise is coordinated by the East African Community and supported by several partners, including the World Health Organizaton.
It will bring together about 250 participants who will comprise public health officials, veterinary experts and the military.
"The exercise allows participants to identify strengths and weaknesses and can facilitate practical corrective actions at all levels," Katende said.
"It will be used to assess coordination and collaboration mechanisms, emergency response deployment, logistics and administrative processes, risk and crisis communication as well as emergency management and leadership."
EAC Senior Livestock Officer Dr David Balikowa said they will take a One Health approach, where vets and human doctors work together during an outbreak.
Early this week, the Rwandan army held an ebola simulation drive to ensure preparedness of any emergency outbreak from Congo.
This was the second simulation exercise tested Rwandan military medical service personnel and other stakeholders on the readiness and general conduct during a probable Ebola outbreak in Rwanda.
Estimates by health officials indicate that as of May 21, a total of 1,866 confirmed and probable Ebola Virus Disease cases had been reported, of which 1,241 died in seven main hotspot areas in Eastern DR Congo.