Economy

Treasury seeks Sh729 million to keep Ebola out of Kenya

HEALTH

Health officials screen a traveller for Ebola at Namanga on the Tanzania-Kenya border in September. PHOTO | FILE

The Treasury is seeking parliamentary approval to withdraw Sh729 million to keep Ebola out of Kenya’s borders as experts warn that the deadly virus is likely to last until the end of 2015.

The cash request is contained in a mini-budget tabled in Parliament by Majority Leader Aden Duale where the Treasury is seeking MPs’ nod for an additional Sh57 billion.

The Health ministry says it received Sh350 million from the Treasury from its Sh680 million Ebola budget, forcing it to scale back on some emergency measures to keep at bay a disease that has killed about 7,518 people so far, mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The government has been unable to buy five mobile units as well as build six fixed isolation centres in Nairobi, Mombasa, Eldoret, Nakuru and Kisumu.

This, together with hand sprayers and disinfectants, was to cost Sh338 million according to a budget presented to Parliament on August 18.

The budget indicated that Sh332, 352,000 was to finance service delivery and associated activities such as training in 286 sub-counties and producing brochures for the general public on Ebola.

Kenya is one of 19 countries the World Bank says is at risk of Ebola. Though the outbreak has seemingly peaked, analysts reckon the epidemic in West Africa is likely to continue through 2015.”

READ: Kenya in list of 19 countries at risk from Ebola epidemic

‘‘We need to be ready for a long effort, a sustained effort (for) probably the rest of 2015,” Prof Peter Piot, the director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the BBC last week. Mr Piot was one of the scientists who discovered Ebola in 1976.

Kenya has established a permanent isolation ward at Kenyatta National Hospital, bought protective gear and eight thermal scanners that will be used at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.