President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday launched the construction of the World Health Organization (WHO) African regional operations and logistics hub.
Speaking when he presided over the ground-breaking ceremony for the facility at the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH) in Kiambu County, Kenyatta welcomed the WHO’s decision to put up the emergency hub in Kenya.
Kenya is one of the three African countries selected by the WHO to host a logistics hub that will be equipped with emergency medical personnel, commodities and equipment to support countries with emergencies in Eastern Africa.
Senegal and Nigeria are the other two African countries selected to host the WHO hubs that will also be centres of excellence in emergency medical training with a capacity to respond to over 100 crises at a time.
Kenyatta commended WHO for the launch of the new innovative initiative to improve the capacities of African countries to respond, in real-time, to increasingly numerous and complex health emergencies.
“An expanded and more versatile emergencies hub in Kenya will allow WHO to effectively and swiftly support Kenya and all Eastern and Southern African countries 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 emergencies hub in Kenya, to coordinate high-quality responses to health emergencies,” the President said.
To facilitate the commencement of operations of the hub, President Kenyatta said the Government has allocated 30 acres of land adjacent to KUTRRH and committed USD 5 million towards the operationalization of the hub.
“We will continue to collaborate with other development partners in sourcing for more resources to support the completion and the full operationalization of this hub,” the President said.
He added that the Government has also provided WHO with rent-free office space at the KUTRRH to accommodate the initial staff component of up to 150 officers needed to start preparations for the establishment of the hub
“This space has been identified on the Training Research and Innovation (TRIC) building of the KUTRRH,” President Kenyatta said.
The Head of State expressed satisfaction that his directive to the National Treasury and Kenya Revenue Authority to expedite customs clearance for the emergency logistics hub’s medical supplies has been operationalized.
“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 in order to ensure the smooth running of this facility.
“I wish to assure WHO, of Kenya’s unflinching support for strengthening WHO as the global leader and coordinating entity for preparedness and response of pandemics and other health emergencies,” the Head of State said.
At the same time, the President announced that Kenya has endorsed the legally binding International Pandemic Treaty under WHO which aims to strengthen global solidarity, high-level political commitment and equitable distribution of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics during pandemics, especially to the developing world.
Earlier, Kenyatta inaugurated a Cath Lab and the Onesmo Ole Moi-Yoi executive wing at the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital, saying the two facilities add to the growing compliment of health service delivery in public hospitals.
KUTRRH board chair Prof. Olive Mugenda thanked the President for being instrumental in the development of the regional hospital.
“With your support, we have an integrated molecular imaging centre which has continued to be a great blessing for many Kenyans and other people in the region. So far we have scanned 1200 Kenyans who would have otherwise gone to India for scanning,” Mugenda said.
She pointed out that the opening of the Cath Lab will significantly address cardiac problems such as coronary heart disease and heart attacks while the Onesmo Ole Moi-Yoi executive wing will help patients with issues needing personalized care.
WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus said the construction of the emergency logistics hub and centre of excellence marks Kenya’s continued partnership with his organisation and the United Nations in general.
“President Kenyatta, I would like to express my gratitude and my admiration for your leadership and vision in supporting WHO and for sponsoring this half which will help build a stronger and more resilient Africa,” the WHO Director-General said.
He said the centre will help to address at least 100 health emergencies every year such as the outbreaks of cholera, yellow fever, meningitis, measles and Ebola as well as humanitarian disasters including the current hunger crisis.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe also spoke at the function that was attended by Head of Public Service Dr. Joseph Kinyua and other senior Government officials as well as UN representatives.