ON RADAR

Phone-based system to boost disease detection, surveillance

To register for the service, you can dial *256# and get updates for free

In Summary

• The ministry will use the information gathered through the system to prepare for and respond to any outbreak threats.

• The system can be accessed by all users with any handset, not necessarily a smartphone.

Health CAS Rashid Aman during the launch of the Global Epidemic Prevention Project in Nairobi on Friday
Health CAS Rashid Aman during the launch of the Global Epidemic Prevention Project in Nairobi on Friday
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

The Health ministry has launched a mobile-based system to enhance the surveillance of and strengthen disease detection.

The ministry will use the information gathered through the system to prepare for and respond to any outbreak threats.

To register for the service, users dial *256# and get updates for free. The system can be accessed by all users with any handset, not necessarily a smartphone.

“In the initial phase, travellers will enrol into the system on a voluntary basis owing to the existing data protection and privacy policies,” Health CAS Rashid Aman said. 

Aman said they are looking forward to a time when everyone will enrol into the system. He termed the project a major milestone in disease detection and control. 

He spoke on Friday during the launch of the system called the Global Epidemic Prevention Project, a partnership with Safaricom and Korea Telkom, in Nairobi.  

“The project will not only adequately alert the travellers of potential threats in their destinations but also ensure that they are advised on relevant prevention measures for their personal wellbeing,” the CAS said.

Health CAS Rashid Aman during the launch of the Global Epidemic Prevention Project in Nairobi on Friday
Health CAS Rashid Aman during the launch of the Global Epidemic Prevention Project in Nairobi on Friday
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

Kenya faces threats of fast-spreading disease outbreaks due to the fact that it is a regional trade hub.

The system comes at a time when the region is facing an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

An official from the Korean Embassy during the launch of the Global Epidemic Prevention Project in Nairobi on Friday
An official from the Korean Embassy during the launch of the Global Epidemic Prevention Project in Nairobi on Friday
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

The second-largest Ebola outbreak on record is currently raging in the DRC with more than 2,000 cases and more than 1,400 deaths recorded.

While the epidemic has been mostly contained in the DRC, the potential and risk of spread is high. 

During the 2014 outbreak in West Africa, a Kenyan team of 170 people was dispatched and they spent about six months helping to bring down the epidemic.

These individuals are part of Kenya’s Ebola mitigation teams that have now been mobilised to all major entry points.

(edited by O. Owino)