Govt. plans to distribute dengue test kits 

MOMBASA, Kenya, 17 March 2017– The government is planning to provide dengue test kits to Mvita Sub County, Mombasa and other counties where the disease is endemic, to facilitate treatment and provision of data that will be utilized to establish the country’s disease burden and distribution.

The move  is expected to inform implementation of vector control activities as well as other preventive interventions.  At the moment, the disease is either confirmed or suspected to be prevalent in parts of the coastal region such as Mombasa County; Nyanza region and  northern region of Mandera.

The mosquito-borne disease has no known treatment and the most effective intervention is prevention through effective vector control measures. Symptoms include high fever accompanied by severe headache, severe eye pain, joint pain, muscle and/or bone pain or rash.

According to Head of the Neglected Diseases Unit, Dr. Sultani Matendechero, the disease is often misdiagnosed as malaria and the availability of the test kits will help in enhancing proper diagnosis.

“One of the reasons why dengue is not picked is lack of test kits and the fact that it’s signs and symptoms resemble those of malaria or other febrile diseases. The kits are fairly expensive and as policy makers we want to work closely with affected counties to ensure that anyone who deserves to benefit from their use do so, irrespective of whether they can afford it or not. So we have started making arrangements with various County governments to seek ways in which they can be made available,” he noted.

In 2016, the Ministry with support from various partners conducted a dengue survey in Mombasa County and found that the disease is present in the County with a high sero-positivity rate, indicating a longstanding continued presence. The survey was conducted in 10 community health units in Mvita sub-County, Mombasa County Referral Hospital, Tudor sub-County Hospital and Ganjoni Health Centre.

Meanwhile, the government is planning to conduct similar sero-prevalence studies in areas where the disease is suspected to be prevalent. In 2011, a dengue outbreak was confirmed in Mandera County  and  another in Mombasa in 2013 through 2014.

“As the Ministry of Health, we want to use this information to plan for a bigger disease burden assessment because we want to be able to respond to other areas suspected to have dengue. This will help in designing interventions that can be rolled out in conjunction with County governments as we shall be able to give clear policy direction,” observed Dr. Matendechero.