President Uhuru Kenyatta and Rwanda President Paul Kagame at the East African Business Summit held in Kigali on October 16, 2014. PHOTO
East African Community (EAC) member states are working on a common strategy to deal with the deadly Ebola virus that has ravaged West Africa, two regional leaders said on Thursday.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame said Ebola is devastating economies in West Africa and beyond.
“We have recognised that this is not an African but a global problem that requires (a) global effort. Unless effectively addressed, it is already damaging our good prospects. Our airlines are suffering a lot of cancellations by travellers and tourists in particular,” Mr Kenyatta said at the East African Business Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.
President Kenyatta announced that Kenya has 15 medical experts and about 100 health workers who have volunteered to go and assist in fighting the virus in West Africa.
He said ways were being worked out about getting them to the Ebola-hit areas.
Mr Kenyatta, who chairs the East African Community Heads of States Summit, said the region is keeping a close eye on the outbreak.
The virus, which has killed about 4,000 people, started in Guinea in February before spreading to Liberia and Serra Leone.
Cases have since been reported in the United States and Europe where doctors who volunteered to work in West Africa have tested positive on return to their home countries.
“Flights from the East African region to West Africa have been withdrawn because of the Ebola outbreak.
“East Africa is trying to come up with a common strategy to counter the spread of the disease,” President Kenyatta said.
He said health ministers from the region have been meeting since last month over the crisis.
“They are currently in Arusha, Tanzania, deliberating to see a common front to this disease,” he said.
Mr Kenyatta also said the African Union (AU) is working on a plan to collaborate and assist Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
“To contain the virus from spreading or coming into East Africa, we must be proactive to participate and see how to help the deeply affected countries deal with crisis.
“It is something we can’t brush away. Although the virus has not touched East Africa, its effects have reduced tourists flow and resulted in flight cancellations.
“Ebola has already had an impact on our economy. There is (a) need for EA to develop a common strategy to keep the virus at bay. We are proactive. We need to see how the global problem will be eliminated,” he said.
President Kagame said all tragedies of Ebola, which East Africa hopes would be contained, remind all people that the world is inter-dependent and interconnected.
“Ebola stated in one country, spread across the continent and now to the world. This requires concerted response,” Kagame said