- The WHO Regional Emergency Hub is one of the three regional WHO emergency hubs in Africa to support countries in the region to respond to public health emergencies.
- It will also house a centre of excellence specialized in capacity building in health and crisis emergency management.
Emerging disease outbreaks such as cholera and Marburg virus in neighboring countries are posing a major health risk to Kenya.
Health CS Susan Wafula on Monday said such outbreaks threaten to reverse years of health and development progress in Africa.
The CS spoke during the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation regarding establishment of a regional emergency hub in Nairobi.
The groundbreaking for the WHO Regional Emergency Hub has already been done becoming the third regional emergency hub in Africa to support countries in the region in responding to public health emergencies.
It will serve as a modern storage centre for essential medical equipment and consumables that will ensure timely logistical support to countries with emergencies in Eastern and Southern Africa.
The hub will also house a centre of excellence specialised in capacity building in health and crisis emergency management.
"The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of preparedness and response in the face of health emergencies," the CS said.
"One of the biggest challenges that the Government faced in the response is the lack of essential commodities such as personal protective equipment and Covid-19 vaccines due to the global supply chain challenges and vaccine apartheid," she added.
According to the CS, the hub will also enhance Kenya's ability to coordinate with other countries in the region.
This will be done through partnerships with regional bodies such as the African Union and the East African Community in an effort to ensure collective response to emergencies.
Wafula further reiterated government's commitment to work with WHO and other regional partners to strengthen the country's health systems and improve preparedness and response to health emergencies.
"With this hub in place, we are better equipped to protect the health and wellbeing of our people and to respond to emergencies with speed and efficiency," she said.
The CS further acknowledged the role WHO has played in strengthening in-country systems and structures for emergency preparedness and response.
WHO has also played a key role in helping Kenya to develop disease-specific contingency plans including viral hemorrhagic fevers, pandemic influenza, cholera, Rift Valley fever and polio.