ARTICLE TYPE

Disaster Preparedness & Response

 Infectious disease outbreaks of Zika, Ebola, MERS-CoV, SARS, cholera, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and various strains of the influenza virus have affected hundreds of millions of people around the world in the past 15 years. The disease outbreaks have had devastating impacts on economies, societies and the public health system both locally, regionally and globally. Expert evaluations of disease response efforts have highlighted weakness and significant failures in preparedness that could have averted disease spread and minimized impact and economic losses in GDP. There is recognition of the fact that 60% of all infectious diseases in humans and 75% of emerging diseases are spread from animals and thus there is need for collaborative efforts of multiple disciplines-working to achieve the best health for people, animals, and environment. Kenya has implemented strategies including Integrated Disease Surveillance and Reporting (IDSR), community health strategy, and one health approach. The implementation of IDSR has strengthened capacity of the health facilities to detect, report and respond to disease outbreaks but left gaps in communities to prevent, detect, and respond. One health approach has been rolled out at the national level being spearheaded by the Zoonotic disease unit, a collaboration between the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries and the Ministry of Health. 
Kenya Red Cross Society funded by IFRC through USAID funds is supporting County governments of West Pokot, Narok, Bomet and Tharaka Nithi to strengthen Community Preparedness for epidemics and Pandemics through the CP3 program since year 2018. Through the one health approach, the organization is working closely with key county government sectors like ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Local government among others while enhancing community Partnership and involving other key stakeholders like Small and Medium Micro -Enterprises all aimed at enhancing long term solutions to the recurrently arising human and animals’ diseases. Through the Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Program (CP3), Kenya Red Cross is leveraging on community health strategy, one health approach, and IDSR to increase reach in communities, strengthen its capacity and Ministry of Health at county and sub-county level to prevent, detect and respond to disease outbreak threats. KRCS is strengthening epidemic and pandemic preparedness in four the counties through cross border and inter county surveillance, systems strengthening and community early warning systems. This is done by bridging gaps in community public health surveillance through implementation of Community based surveillance (CBS) and control strategies at the community level within the framework of Community Health Strategy. KRCS seeks to work with health and other stakeholders at the national, county and sub county level to enhance their preparedness and response. 
 Goal:
            Population at risks of disease outbreaks in target counties have increased capacity to prevent, detect and respond to outbreaks 
            Objectives 
  • To strengthen community resilience against the effects of epidemics and pandemics
  • To build National Society and County capacity to prepare and respond to epidemic and pandemic threats
  • To promote private sector, media and other key stake holder engagement in health security 

Community Preparedness 

  1. Epidemic Control for Volunteers and Community Based Surveillance. The staff of health and Agriculture department of the four counties like community health extension workers (CHEWs) or community health assistant (CHAs), Sub-county surveillance officers and Public health Officers are trained first on Epidemic Control for Volunteers (ECV) and Community Based Surveillance (CBS). ECV provides basic knowledge of the nature of the diseases, the community case definitions of the zoonotic diseases to detect early signs that will be responded, especially in when the conditions of an environment chan.
  2. Community dialogues engage community members into joining efforts bringing a holistic approach for safety under the one health approach. An action plan for the community is facilitated by the Kenya Red Cross volunteers and undertaken through the Community Health Committees. Some action plans activities under implementation are households building latrines and slashing of bushes under the Nyumba Kumi initiative, to reduce the spread of diarrheal diseases and malaria respectively. In a quarterly basis, the CHC come together to map out their progress and give household feedback to ramp up the action plan.
  3. In schools, the patrons of the school health clubs are trained on the CP3 program, influencing the learners on the awareness of diseases through their weekly club meetings. The students will not only promote the teachings to their community creating a larger reach to people but also contribute to behaviour change among learners at a very young age lowering the risks of future epidemic and pandemic diseases. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has halted the progress. Nonetheless, students are carrying out these practices in their homesteads, being the leading agent of change in the community.

 National Society preparedness

Kenya Red Cross, as a national society, also partakes in the training for preparedness of the epidemic and pandemic diseases. The program is embedded in the four branches respective of the counties, sensitizing a total of 120 RCAT teams, especially on Preparedness for Effective Response creating the ability to coordinate stakeholder’s capacity and mobilize resources that will assist in the response of the detected diseases. The aim is to ensure that the readiness to act on any disease outbreak will be swift and effective therefore objectively supporting the government through the humanitarian work, strengthening preparedness of epidemic and pandemic diseases. 

 

Stakeholders preparedness

Who are the stake holders? 
  • The traditional leaders 
  • The religious leaders</li>
  • Small and medium Enterprises like transport systems, traders, farmers, restaurant owners and butchers 
Why are they key stakeholders?
Eyed as a great value to the community, they are taken through the dangers in unpreparedness in the epidemic and pandemic diseases, affecting the economic and physical factors that are cherished for a communities’ growth. The CP3 advocates their involvement in the program’s activities not only to impact the community’s contribution but also for the leaders to input creating better community resilience.

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