Western, Nyanza counties in the spotlight over poor sanitation

by Amref Health Africa
  • The four counties are Vihiga, Bungoma, Kakamega and Trans Nzoia.
  • The health experts said that many residents in the region are not keen on their personal hygiene.

The Ministry of Health in collaboration with Amref Health Africa has revealed that more than six million people from Western counties are at risk of getting diseases caused by intestinal worms and bilharzia.

From a study conducted by the ministry in all 155 wards in the four counties, 140 wards had reported cases of intestinal worms, while at least 40 wards had more than 40 per cent cases of bilharzia.

The four counties are Vihiga, Bungoma, Kakamega and Trans Nzoia.

The health experts said that many residents in the region are not keen on their personal hygiene.

They further said the Health ministry and Amref have combined efforts to help sensitise school children and the local community on the importance of good personal hygiene

In an Interview with the media on Friday in Mt Elgon, Florence Wakesho, a parasitologist from the division of vector-borne and neglected tropical diseases, called on households to ensure that they wash their hands frequently as a way of protecting against diseases that come from dirt.

She also called on the residents to have pit latrines in their homes.

“We have combined efforts with other health partners to help teach the community the importance of keeping good personal hygiene,” she said.

However, Wakesho urged schools to have hand washing points in every corner so that teachers’ and learners’ hands are kept clean.

“Some people stopped washing hands after the Ministry of Health announced that the corona wave has gone down…I want to ask everybody to embrace hand washing every time,” she said.

Wakesho said that 1.5 million in Bungoma county and 600,000 in Vihiga county are at risk of getting the diseases.

According to Dr Wycliffe Omondi, the head of the Division, Vector-borne and Neglected Tropical Diseases at the Health Ministry, Kenya seeks to upscale mapping of the regions with high prevalence so as to lower transmission.

“We have evidence that over 27 counties have a high prevalence of intestinal worms,” he said.

Dr Omondi also said that diseases that are caused by untidiness are high in Nyanza and Western regions.

Moses Wambusi, a public health officer at Bungoma County Referral Hospital, attributed the rise of spreading diseases to cultural beliefs among the community.

Wambusi called on the residents residing near the water sources to ensure that they have pit latrines to avoid using bushes.

Amref Health Africa officer Solomon Mwaniki said that the organisation has partnered with the Health Ministry to help sensitise the community to combat the spread of diseases in the Nyanza/ Western region.

The World Health Organization recommends that cases should be below two per cent and we are working towards achieving this.

Mwaniki said that they have already administered medicine for the two diseases in the wards to break transmission.

The intestinal worms are categorised as roundworms, whipworms and hookworms, and are transmissible among both children and adults.

Although the National Health Insurance Fund does not cover NTDs, Dr Omondi said the Universal Health Coverage is looking at shouldering patients’ burden.

Article first published on https://www.the-star.co.ke/counties/nyanza/2022-10-23-western-nyanza-counties-on-the-spotlight-over-poor-sanitation/

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