On the path to certification as Guinea Worm free

Nairobi:  29 November, 2017 The international Certification Team on Eradication of Guinea Worm has started its mission in the country to carry out the certification exercise in Kenya.

Under the aegis of The World Health Organization (WHO) the Team led by Professor Joel Breman will be in the country up to 20th December, 2017 and will assess whether Kenya can be certified as Guinea Worm Free.

‘’It would be a significant and historic public health achievement in Kenya and the world should Kenya be declared free of Guinea worm disease following the evaluation”, said Cabinet Secretary for Health, Dr. Cleopa Mailu, when he launched the Mission’s certification exercise at Afya this morning.

Guinea Worm, is a parasitic disease transmitted through drinking contaminated water. It is caused by a long, thin, white that emerges from the skin of any part of the body. It can be prevented by boiling or filtering drinking water.

The last indigenous Guinea Worm case was reported in Kenya in 1994 and the last imported case was identified and treated in 2005. In pursuit for certification as free from Guinea, Kenya launched the National Certification Committee in 2014.

Dr. Mailu observed that the current evaluation mission was in itself significant milestone and assured the Team that they will be accorded the necessary support to accomplish their mission.

He hailed the National Certification Committee and all the health staff for continued efforts to scale up disease awareness and surveillance to detect and contain any imported case. The efforts must continue even after certification, until the whole world is declared free of the disease, more so in Kenya due to neighboring countries which are still endemic, he added.

Kenya’s Country report was submitted to the World Health Organization in July 2016 and updated in August 2017. Since then, Kenya has strengthened surveillance for the disease in cross-border areas through dedicated staff supported by the WHO and UNHCR within refugee camps.

More about Guinea Worm

People get Guinea Worm Disease through drinking dirty, unfiltered water containing water fleas which have the young Guinea Worms. The young worm passes through the stomach and the intestines.  Adult worms move toward the skin surface to other parts of the body. One year after, the adult worm causes a painful watery swelling and when the part of the body with the swelling gets into water, the adult worm release out young worms. The water fleas swallow the young worms and the cycle continues. Removal of the worm must be done in a health facility.