Over 500 Refugees Among those Screened for COVID-19 in Kenya

Provision of personal protective equipment (PPEs) under the EU-IGAD COVID-19 response programme

Dadaab, among the largest refugee camps on the continent, has been a hive of activity, with 586 new arrivals being screened for COVID-19 between January and April this year, under the EU-IGAD COVID-19 Response programme.

Over 100 individuals received psychological first aid and mental health support through telephonic counselling. Four individuals were referred for GBV assistance.

Populations on the move, including migrants and refugees are among those more vulnerable to COVID-19, not least because they are often unable to observe social distancing and may not have access to information and treatment.

In the last four months, over 70 healthcare workers from Kenya’s Marsabit and Garissa counties - including doctors, nurses, epidemiologists, and public health officers - have also been trained in how to effectively respond to COVID-19.

Complementing the training was the provision of personal protective equipment (PPEs), along with support in disease surveillance. Also covered was awareness on COVID-19 vaccination, including myths and misinformation. 

This support has been provided under the “EU-IGAD COVID-19 Response programme, which is mitigating the health and socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the IGAD region by enhancing capacity to coordinate national responses, increasing access to health and WASH services for vulnerable groups, mitigating gender-based violence, improving community engagement, ensuring borders and critical supply chains are safe for trade and promoting digital solutions to monitor the pandemic. The programme is funded by the European Union, managed by UNOPS and coordinated by IGAD. IOM Kenya, UNICEF, TMEA and GIZ are the implementing partners of this programme. 

Commenting on the donation of PPE, Mr Ibrahim Kullow, the Assistant County Commissioner for Dadaab, said: “This support is timely. The supplies will protect our healthcare workers for the next few months and keep them safe as they continue to save lives during this pandemic. Accessing adequate PPEs for our doctors and nurses has been a big challenge”.  

Dr. Jamma Wolde, the County Executive for Health, Marsabit County, chimed in: “The partnership and collaboration between Marsabit County and IOM is beneficial. These donations will assist in reducing the COVID-19 infection rate among the county’s frontline staff.”

IOM Kenya deployed a nurse to a COVID-19 isolation centre in Moyale Sub-county hospital, Marsabit, to assist with screening and surveillance. By the end of April, 912 guests had been screened, with five individuals receiving psychosocial support. Three beneficiaries were provided with GBV support.

Since the onset of COVID-19, IOM Kenya has also been testing county frontline health workers. The specimens are transported to its laboratory in Nairobi for processing, with the results being made available within 48 hours. 

To date over 100 frontline officers have been tested from both Marsabit and Garissa counties. 

“We have been waiting for seven to 14 days to receive the COVID-19 results from the already stretched government laboratory. This quick turn-around time is relieving anxiety among frontline officers,” said Mr. Kussu Abduba, CEO of Moyale Sub-County hospital. 

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