REPUBLIC OF KENYA

CS Cleopa Mailu opinion on health sector as shared on the Nation Newspaper

This year has been challenging for the health sector. As we moved from one strike to another, critical services were affected.

Indeed, many children went unimmunised, more mothers opted to deliver at home and many patients missed their TB and ARV medications.

The country was exposed to the risk of epidemics and resistance to drugs. There was a real concern that the great strides we had made in health were being reversed.

In fact, as a Ministry of Health had to conduct catch-up campaigns to ensure that the most vulnerable such as pregnant mothers and children got access to services.

The health sector is now stable and the Ministry of Health appreciates the recent decision by nurses and other health workers to resume duty and hope that solutions to industrial unrest shall be found.

FOOD SECURITY

Even as we look into the future, there are immediate concerns. The short rains are here. They are a blessing and will enhance food security and boost incomes for farmers and traders.

However, there are many dangers ahead. Diseases such as cholera and typhoid may rebound, and others such as hepatitis A, influenza, Rift Valley Fever and Dengue could pose a grave threat.

Already we are witnessing flooding, leading to burst sewers and water shortages.

There is a high risk of a large increase in the mosquito population either during or at the end of the short rains.

In many areas, visibility is reduced and the risk of road accidents is high. As result of the rains in August and September we saw an upsurge of malaria cases in Baringo, Marsabit and Turkana, in which 10 people died.

We have since brought the situation under control with adequate stocks of supplies to deal with any emergency.

The national and county governments have made adequate preparations to deal with such eventualities.

We have distributed 250,000 mosquito nets, and 150,000 doses of antimalarial drugs and stocked county pharmacies with adequate medicines to deal with cholera and other water-borne diseases.

PREVENT DEATHS

I would encourage that we maintain good hygiene, including handwashing; sleeping under insecticide-treated nets and ensuring that drinking water is safe.

I urge Kenyans to be cautious on the roads and take other measures to prevent deaths and injuries in accidents due to reduced visibility, floods and landslides.

County governments should have contingency plans and ensure that the necessary commodities are available at the right place and the right time.

The Health ministry will work with them on this. Counties should have rapid response teams on alert and ready for deployment at the shortest notice. Counties should invest substantially to improve water and sanitation infrastructure and ensure routine inspection of food joints and restaurants.

During this season, we continue to seek support to ensure that the entire country is ready to deal with any possible epidemic or natural disaster. We count on our development partners to assist in deploying logistics and emergency care centres whenever called upon.

We wish to assure Kenyans again that our emergency plans are ready and we shall work with other agencies, including the National Disaster Operations Centre.

This year, we struggled with cholera with a total of 3,244 cases being reported, resulting in 60 deaths.

It is noteworthy that these deaths and suffering could have been avoided through good sanitation and hygiene. As a country, we do not have to suffer as a result of natural phenomena such as rain.

I look forward to a rainy season full of hope and optimism and I am confident that we shall deal with any health-related challenges that may arise.

Dr Mailu is the Health Cabinet Secretary

Agencies Websites

Contact Us

Ministry of Health, Afya House, Cathedral Road, P.O. Box:30016–00100, Nairobi, Kenya. Telephone: +254-20-2717077 Email: ps(at)health.go.ke