MPs protest discrimination of Kenyans abroad over Ebola

Members of Parliament have accused the Government of failing to ensure that Kenyans travelling abroad are not discriminated over Ebolafears.

The House adjourned for one hour last week to express its outrage over the Government’s handling of the health crisis even as President Uhuru Kenyatta insisted that the country was on a red alert over the deadly disease.

“There is no Ebola in Kenya and we are very prepared to control and contain the disease,” said President Uhuru Kenyatta during the Mashujaa Day celebrations last week.

MPs expressed concern over recent reports of Kenyans being viewed with suspicion in foreign countries, and demanded to know how the Ministry of Health had spent the Sh960 million set aside for creating awareness on the disease.

They hit out at the Ministry of Health for failing to give regular updates on country’s preparedness to respond to the virus in the event of an outbreak, which they said had exposed Kenyans to stigma abroad.

Lost job

“We need to clear this wrong perception and tell the world that Kenya is an Ebola-free country. We need to stand firm and protect the dignity of our people at all costs. We need the Government to issue a statement on the Ebola status in this country,” said Stephen Mule (Matungulu).

Recent media reports highlighted a case of a Kenyan in the United States who lost her job after she allegedly hosted a relative from Kenya.

Makueni MP Daniel Maanzo told the House how the body of one of his constituents was doused with hydrochloric acid in Seychelles on suspicion that he had died of Ebola.

He said efforts to bring the body home hit a snag after authorities in the island country insisted that it could only be flown back in a chartered flight. “They said we could only use a private plane which had to be sprayed,” said Maanzo.

“Bodies are being doused with hydrochloric acid a result of the anxiety created by the disease. The ministry must give Kenyans regular updates on what it is doing,” said James Nyikal (Seme).

The virus has so far killed almost 5,000 people in the three West African states of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. There have also been reported outbreaks in other countries including the United States and Spain.

Although the Government insists that it has put in place measures to deal with the Ebola scare, various health experts say the level of alertness especially at the country’s entry points was not satisfactory.

Kipkelion MP Joseph Limo said that the fear of Ebola was greater than that of death itself.

“People fear Ebola more than death itself. If somebody comes into this chamber shouting ‘ Ebola’, Even the Speaker would run away,” the MP told the House.

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