Health experts largely attribute the dehydrating disease to poor sanitation and improper hygienic practices especially defecating in the open with the human waste contaminating water sources and food.

poor state of sanitation
Poor sanitation
Cholera has been hitting the country since 2014; the first outbreak cases being reported in the low income areas in 21 out of the 47 counties, zones where residents rarely enjoy access to water. Food is also cooked in the open along sewer lines.

In its October, 2015 report, European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO) indicated that more than 100 people had died and 7,000 cases reported following the disease outbreak in December 2014.

However, according to UNICEF the outbreak was contained in 16 counties due to collaborative efforts between the government and its partners.

In some counties in the North eastern, Eastern, Coastal, Western and Rift Valley regions, the disease has been recurring since 2014, while others are experiencing it for the first time according to Ministry of Health.

In the northeastern parts of Wajir and Marsabit, the cases have been recurring as a result of what health officials link to consumption of water from contaminated sources namely boreholes.

Medecines Sans Frontiers (MSF), who are among the state partners responding to the disease outbreak in the country, consider Wajir an area with high potential for the spread of the disease due to poor human waste disposal and drying of rivers.

According to Elizabeth Kiptoo, the Nakuru County disease surveillance officer, “Water contaminated with the human waste is a major cause of the cholera outbreak.

Nakuru County in northwest Kenya is among the 12 counties in the East African nation with the recent cases of the cholera outbreak.

Since the beginning of the year, the cases have been reported in the Nairobi, Western, Rift Valley, Eastern, Nyanza and North Eastern counties.

And although the health ministry is yet to release official updated figures of deaths or affected cases, it reports that up to the end of 2015, at least 216 died with more than 13,000 others being affected.

In Dadaab-the largest refugee camp in Kenya, at least 10 refugees died during the outbreak last year, according to United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

Last month, Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Health, Nicholas Muraguri warned the public against improper handling of food since unhygienic food outlets had been observed as sources of the disease outbreak.

By the time, he said, the ministry had reinforced efforts to contain it. These included facilitating quick response strategies including doctors on alert and adequate diagnostic and treatment materials.

Counties reporting the incidents had also established isolated units for treatment of the affected people.

Further, educating the masses on maintaining high levels of sanitation and observing proper hygienic practices is among the key activities the government and non-government agencies are engaged in to eliminate the disease and prevent its recurrence.

“It is very important that people understand the necessity of drinking clean water and washing hands often with soap and that is what we encouraging them to do,” said Kiptoo.

However, according to Hildah Kwamboka, a hygiene champion based in Nakuru County, lack of proper and adequate sanitation facilities and access to clean water leaves many Kenyans prone to cholera.

“It is challenging to address the spread of the disease in areas where many people share one pit latrine and they don’t clean it,” said Kwamboka.

She says although sensitizing locals on proper hygienic practices such as washing hands and disinfecting latrines has been fruitful in areas such as Nakuru County, providing people with clean water was significant in addressing the disease.

“You can still wash hands with contaminated water and that will not have solved the problem,” she said.

Treating cholera is a costly affair. The country’s Ministry of Health indicates that it could require between 20 dollars and 50 dollars to treat a cholera patient, an amount which caters for hydrating fluids and drugs. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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