Kenya continues to register increasing numbers of COVID-19 infection.
By 30 March 2020, 50 cases of COVID-19 infection had been confirmed spread across Nairobi, Kajiado, Mombasa, Kajiado, Kilifi, and Kwale Counties. Whereas the initial cases were individuals with a history of foreign travel, Kenya is now experiencing community transmission specifically among close contacts.
The immediate prevention and control measures employed by the government of Kenya include physical distancing, cough hygiene, working from and staying at home, self-quarantine and compulsory quarantine for new international arrivals, hand hygiene (hand washing and sanitisation) and household and institution disinfections.
Handwashing with soap and water is one of the most effective ways of flattening the transmission curve. This coupled with risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) encompasses high impact on public health interventions against COVID-19 transmission. However, for persons living in informal settlements, these measures raise significant fundamental inequities. The informal settings are congested, poorly ventilated, lack running water for handwashing with limited financial resources (rely on daily income and jobs are scarce), that predisposed households to significant risks.
Amref Health Africa in Kenya has partnered with Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) to distribute sanitisers to households in Mukuru and Kawangware slums within Nairobi. KBL has today provided 400,000 pieces of ethyl alcohol-based sanitisers packed in 100ml bottles that Amref will distribute to households employing community engagement to ensure appropriate use. The distribution is expected to commence later this week.
These two slums are heavily congested (total population of about 702,000 people – Mukuru 492,000 and Kawangware 210,000) and lack adequate water supplies to sustain proper handwashing. The use of hand sanitisers is, therefore, one of the most effective methods of maintaining hand hygiene.
Speaking at a press briefing while receiving the consignment at the East Africa Breweries Limited offices in Ruaraka, Amref Health Africa Global CEO Dr Githinji Gitahi stated that it was gratifying to see the response from KBL urging all other sectors to continue bringing what they have to respond to the pandemic.
“These sanitisers are to be used with the other public health measures which are physical and social distance and handwashing. They are not a replacement for physical distance,” added Dr Githinji.
To ensure that this activity is optimal, Amref will work with the Ministry of Health to facilitate risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) by building the capacities of community health workers to effectively communicate appropriate messages to the recipient households. The CHWs will educate households on the proper use of the sanitisers, monitor their distribution and provide data that will inform coverage for accountability purposes.
Amref Health Africa has been tasked with coordinating community engagement and response, working with the Ministry of Health’s Division of Community Health and other
partners. People living in informal settlements are a priority population and Amref is actively mobilizing resources to institute targeted interventions.