Poor sanitation driving cases of cholera up, survey reveals
“Avoid open defecation—use clean toilets,” the Ministry of Health has advised Kenyans, emphasising that cholera is still a fatal threat, having claimed 78 people since a recent case was detected in Kiambu on October 8, 2022.
The ministry has also asked Kenyans to drink clean boiled or treated water, eat well-cooked food, thoroughly clean fruits and vegetables before consumption, and wash hands with soap and clean water before meals.
The country has recorded 4,186 cholera cases so far since October last year. It was reported that fifteen people were rushed to hospital in severe condition after consuming food at a wedding ceremony in Limuru, and since then the cases have been rising.
Subsequently, Health Cabinet Secretary, Susan Nakhumicha said that even as the Ministry continues to implement a National Multi-Sectoral Cholera Elimination Plan (NMCEP), Kenyans need to be aware that cholera transmission is linked to inadequate access to clean water and sanitation facilities.
“High-risk areas include slums and camps for internally displaced persons or refugees, where minimum requirements for clean water and sanitation are not adequate,” the CS said yesterday when together with her EAC counterpart, Rebecca Miano, flagged off a consignment of commodities for cholera and Ebola treatment at Afya House.
She said the NMCEP has identified and prioritised hotspots based on epidemiological and Water and Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) indicators. “The plan has also adopted a whole government, whole society approach to cholera control, which integrates a combination of interventions including coordination, surveillance, water, sanitation and hygiene risk communication and community engagement,” she said.
Other interventions include case management, infection prevention and control (IPC), food safety and water quality control, and Oral Cholera Vaccines (OCV).
However, to successfully implement the plan, Nakhumicha called for strong partnerships to mobilise and deploy necessary resources. “The Ministry is calling upon the public to ensure they avoid open defecation and instead use clean toilets, wash hands with soap and water after using the toilets, and initiate oral rehydration salt solution immediately after they identify anyone with acute watery diarrhoea and severe dehydration,” she said.
Kenyans have also been requested to help in reporting cases identified presenting with acute watery diarrhea and severe dehydration. “As you may be aware, since October last year, the country has reported cholera cases in 14 Counties namely; Nairobi, Kiambu, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Kajiado, Murang’a, Machakos, Garissa, Meru, Nyeri, Wajir, Tana River, Kitui and Homa Bay,” she said.
According to acting health director general, Dr Patrick Amoth, the outbreak has however been controlled in four counties namely Kajiado, Murang’a, Nyeri, and Uasin Gishu. “So far, 14 counties were affected, about four have managed to completely control the disease, while nine counties are still experiencing outbreaks,” he said.
According to a recent World Bank study, 5.6 million Kenyans are practising open defecation accounting for 14 percent nationally. Children born into vulnerable families practicing open defecation are at risk of dying of cholera, diarrhoea, typhoid and dysentery.