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Malaria outbreak kills three more people in Kerio Valley

By Winstone Chiseremi
Thursday, January 23rd, 2020
One of the students of Sing’ore Girls High School in Elgeyo Marakwet, who is recuperating at Iten County Referral Hospital following a malaria outbreak in the area. Photo/PD/WINSTONE CHISEREMI
In summary
    • Measures: Elgeyo Marakwet Health Executive Kiprono Chepkok assures residents that the devolved government has already taken measures to bring the malaria outbreak in the affected areas under control.
    • Priority: He says the county was making arrangements to ensure all its public health facilities are stocked with drugs, adding that priority will be given to hospitals along Kerio Valley.

Winstone Chiseremi @Wchiseremi

Three people, including an eight-year-old, succumbed to Malaria on Tuesday, bringing the number of those who have died due to an outbreak of the disease in Elgeyo Marakwet county to four.

More than 20 people, including secondary school students, have been hospitalised in various public facilities over a suspected malaria attack. 

The county Health department has since dispatched a team of experts to Kerio Valley, which is the most hit, to assess the situation.

Their deployment follows the death of a Form One student at Sing’ore Girls High School and hospitalisation of five others at Iten County Referral Hospital with malaria-related symptoms. 

The death occurred at Arror dispensary along Kerio Valley, where three others had been rushed for treatment while in critical condition.

Public schools in the county where cases of malaria were reported on Monday, causing panic among learners, are St Patrick’s Boys High School, Mutei and Kessup girls high schools.

The situation in the region, which has been categorised as a malaria zone, has been compounded by lack of enough health personnel and emergency ambulances that would enable people to get to hospital in the event of an emergency.

Area Chief Timothy Kilimo, who confirmed the death of the three, expressed fears that the situation might get out of hand if no immediate intervention measures are taken by the Health department to avert more loss of lives.

“We have a big problem because our health facilities in Kerio Valley, which has been ravaged by a malaria outbreak, lack personnel and emergency ambulances,” he said.

The chief said two public hospitals in the affected location are already overwhelmed by the high number of people flocking the facilities for medical attention, forcing some residents to seek treatment in neighbouring Baringo county.

He said the deaths of the three has caused panic among residents of Kerio Valley and asked the county government to move with speed and ensure Arror and Sangach dispensaries are well stocked with malaria drugs and staff to help combat the outbreak.

Kilimo said the Catholic-run Chesongoch Mission Hospital cannot accommodate the rising number of malaria cases in the region.

 However, the County Health Executive Kiprono Chepkok assured residents that the devolved government has already taken measures to bring the malaria outbreak in the affected areas under control.

Assess situation

“We have dispatched a team of medical experts to the affected areas especially along the Kerio Valley which is the most hit by the malaria outbreak to assess the situation on the ground,” he said.

He said the county was making arrangements to ensure all its public health facilities are stocked with drugs, adding that priority will be given to hospitals along the valley, which is predisposed to malaria outbreaks owing to heavy rains in the area.

Chepkok attributed the rise of malaria cases in the region to recent heavy rains that pounded the area, destroying infrastructure and displacing hundreds of families. 

He advised residents living along the Kerio Valley and other parts of the escarpment to seek medical attention in public health facilities whenever they feel unwell instead of waiting until the situation gets worse.

Feeling unwell

“Malaria cases are on the rise because the region received a lot of rain and that is why it is important for residents to seek for quick medical attention whenever they feel unwell,” he said. 

According to a recent county report, failure by locals to effectively use mosquito nets even with the heavy rains also contributed to the rising cases.

“Though heavy rains contributed to breeding of mosquitoes, locals have also been found not to be sleeping inside mosquito nets,” the report said.

Currently, public health officers and volunteers from several organisations are distributing mosquito nets in affected areas.

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