How to strengthen public health amid heavy rains

by Amref Health Africa

In crises, ensuring safety isn’t a choice – it’s an imperative.

The current onslaught of prolonged rainfall and ensuing floods underscores this reality, with devastating consequences reverberating nationwide.

Lives lost, infrastructure damaged, and communities shattered serve as poignant reminders of the urgent need for concerted action to address multifaced challenges posed by such calamities.

As the roll of the floods continues to mount, reaching a staggering 270 lives lost and leaving a trail of destruction in its wake, it’s evident that safeguarding public health is paramount. The ramifications extend far beyond physical damage, encompassing the insidious spread of waterborne diseases like cholera and typhoid, as well as the psychological toll upon affected communities.

In the face of such adversity, the government under President William Ruto has taken proactive measures to mitigate the impact on citizens’ well-being. Central to these efforts is the Ministry of Health, through the State Department of Public Health and Professional Standards, spearheading relief initiatives to provide essential supplies to affected people. From mosquito nets and water treatment chemicals to nutritional supplements and infection items, prioritising the distribution of these resources is crucial in curbing the spread of diseases and alleviating suffering among vulnerable people.

The ministry and partners have deployed officers to carry out risk assessments, mainly targeting water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) initiatives, especially in Nairobi County. These assessments encompass crucial aspects such as toilets, safe water availability, waste management, access to health facilities, and monitoring infectious diseases.

Additionally, initiatives, including providing dignity pads and addressing psychosocial needs, are prioritised to ensure holistic support to affected communities.

Moreover, we emphasise simple yet impactful habits such as handwashing and food safety to protect public health. When practised diligently, these habits can significantly reduce the risk of waterborne and foodborne illnesses, promoting overall well-being in the face of adverse weather conditions.

Notwithstanding, addressing the public health challenges from heavy rains and flooding demands a comprehensive approach beyond immediate relief efforts.

Public awareness campaigns empower communities to adopt preventive measures against waterborne diseases. At the same time, community-led waste management initiatives help mitigate contamination risks and reduce the incidence of vector-borne illnesses.

Article first published on

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