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Nine tonnes of medical supplies, including ventilators and Covid-19 vaccines were sent to Rwanda. — Wam


The UAE on Saturday sent an aid plane carrying nine tonnes of medical supplies, testing kits, ventilators and Covid-19 vaccines to Rwanda.

Hazza Mohammed Kharsan Al Qahtani, UAE Ambassador to Rwanda, expressed thanks to the UAE leadership for the initiatives to help countries of the world combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

He praised the strong relations between the UAE and Rwanda and the growing cooperation between the two countries, particularly in economic, commercial and investment domains.

"Rwanda was among the first countries to receive medical aid from the UAE to combat Covid-19. In June 2020, the UAE sent to Rwanda a plane carrying four tonnes of medical supplies, to help over 4,000 healthcare workers to contain the spread of the pandemic. In February 2021, the UAE sent a plane carrying 7.8 tonnes of medical aid, in support of the Rwandan government's efforts to fight Covid-19, " Al Qahtani said.

To date, the UAE has responded to the Covid-19 crisis by providing over 2,200 tonnes of aid to more than 135 countries. - Khaleej Times

IMMUNISATION: Former Health CS Sicily Kariuki comforts a child who was vaccinated in 2019. Photo via The Star


Kenya is among countries where thousands of children missed out on basic vaccines last year, according to official data published yesterday by the World Health Organization and Unicef.

According to Kenya’s Ministry of Health, there was a drop in child immunisation in April and May last year during the lockdown, followed by consistent recovery. However, the figures again dipped in December up to February this year.

“Administration of DPT3 (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine) vaccine varies between counties with some counties recording up to 25 per cent decline in the number of doses administered compared to similar periods last year,” said Agatha Olago, head of family health at the Ministry of Health.

Kenya carried out catch-up immunisation for polio, reaching about three million children. The last dose was given on Wednesday.

Dr Olago, while presenting the Continuity of Essential Health Services During the Covid Pandemic report recently, said the figures are already improving.

Globally, at least 23 million children missed out on basic vaccines through routine immunisation services in 2020 – 3.7 million more than in 2019.

WHO said in most parts of the world, children who missed vaccines are in communities affected by conflict, in underserved remote places, or in informal or slum settings where they face multiple deprivations, including limited access to basic health and key social services.

“Even as countries clamour to get their hands on Covid-19 vaccines, we have gone backwards on other vaccinations, leaving children at risk of devastating but preventable diseases like measles, polio, or meningitis,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general.

"Multiple disease outbreaks would be catastrophic for communities and health systems already battling Covid-19, making it more urgent than ever to invest in childhood vaccination and ensure every child is reached.”

Disruptions in immunisation services were widespread in 2020, with the WHO Southeast Asian and Eastern Mediterranean Regions most affected. 

As the access to health services and immunisation outreach were curtailed, the number of children not receiving even their very first vaccinations increased in all regions. Compared to 2019, 3.5 million more children missed their first dose of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine (DTP-1), while three million more children missed their first measles dose globally.

“This evidence should be a clear warning – the Covid-19 pandemic and related disruptions cost us valuable ground we cannot afford to lose – and the consequences will be paid in the lives and wellbeing of the most vulnerable,” said Henrietta Fore, Unicef executive director.

“Even before the pandemic, there were worrying signs that we were beginning to lose ground in the fight to immunise children against preventable child illness, including the widespread measles outbreaks two years ago.

"The pandemic has made a bad situation worse. With the equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines at the forefront of everyone’s minds, we must remember that vaccine distribution has always been inequitable, but it does not have to be.”

Even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, global childhood vaccination rates against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, and polio had stalled for several years at around 86 per cent.

This rate is well below the 95 per cent recommended by WHO to protect against measles—often the first disease to resurge when children are not reached with vaccines—and insufficient to stop other vaccine-preventable diseases. - JOHN MUCHANGI, The Star

President Uhuru Kenyatta oversees the signing of an MoU by GSD vice president Kamel Ghribi (left) and Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe. Photo via Nation Media Group


Kenya’s prowess in telemedicine in Africa is gaining momentum during the pandemic period, with more partnerships with global players being witnessed.

The latest in a country seen as the most potential e-health market in the continent is an agreement the Kenyan government has signed with Italy’s largest private hospital group Gruppo San Donato (GSD) and Italian medical varsity Vita -Salute San Raffaele University.

The collaboration targets to enhance the access of medical care, diagnosis and treatment through telemedicine platforms and the construction of modern hospitals.

In the presence of the Italian Ambassador to Kenya, Alberto Pieri, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between GSD, represented by its vice president Kamel Ghribi, Prof Gianvito Martino, the Vice Rector for Research at the Vita -Salute San Raffaele University and the Kenyan government, represented Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe.

The MoU relates to a partnership between the Italian hospital, the Vita - Salute San Raffaele University and the Kenyan Ministry of Health to provide an enhanced local e-health sector.

Regional health hubs

Mr Ghribi said Africa’s universal health care requires regional health hubs which in turn can become key geo strategic health centers on the continent.

“To achieve this, we need to have stronger networks of health cooperation. The agreement between Italy and Kenya is a sign of long-term engagement for a better future and healthcare for all,” he said.

With a long-term vision to guarantee universal healthcare in Kenya, the partnership aims to ultimately provide improved assistance and quality services to Kenya’s urban and rural population.

Telemedicine adoption in Kenya began in 2015, but has grown over the years to boast of over 60 apps that provide health related solutions through videoconferencing, thanks to an increasingly faster and more affordable internet.

One area of focus for the Group San Donato, Vita-Salute San Raffaele University and the Kenyan government will include development and support of the Kenyan national plan for mental health with the construction of a center in Nairobi.

“Kenya and GSD will collaborate on research and the implementation of mental health interventions. Our objective is to adopt the philosophy of family health for the population. Kenyans deserve quality healthcare,” said Mr Kagwe.


Others will be field training and exchange of professionals and students to strengthen clinical and specialist skills; partnership on research and innovation projects on telemedicine, consultancy for development projects of the care and assistance network and construction of new and modern specialized care facilities.

Such efforts, the three parties believe, will eventually make Kenya the health hub of medical excellence in Africa.

According to Bloomberg’s 2019 Health Index, Italy is recognised as the second healthiest country in the world, having the fourth most efficient healthcare system globally.

The country’s national healthcare system, strong focus on healthy eating habits, combined with prevention, promotes and ensures longevity for its citizens.

Besides being a front-runner in the European healthcare arena, Italy offers excellent hospitality standards and a multitude of tourist attractions.

GSD is the premier provider of health services at all levels of care in all specialties for the Italian National Health System for the last fifteen years, and employs a unique model centered on clinical and academic research to provide individual-based care to everyone. - Faustine Ngila, Daily Nation

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