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Kenya prepares for surge in malaria cases following El-Nino rains

By Lucie Morangi | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2015-10-09 14:02

Kenya's Ministry of Health fears that the onset of El-Niño rains may trigger an outbreak of malaria and other communicable diseases. In 1997 the phenomenon increased incidences of cholera, malaria and rift valley fever.

The cabinet Secretary for Health James Macharia says that his ministry has therefore developed a national contingency plan to guide the nation to prepare for and respond to the consequences and challenges that may arise because of this adverse weather.

"This plan provides a guide on what needs to be done to ensure a timely, consistent and coordinated preparedness and response action in the health sector across the country," he said.

He was speaking during the launch of the revised Kenya Malaria Strategy, a sector-wide document detailing an elaborate strategy for fighting malaria. According to the national malaria control program, a unit in the ministry focusing on the parasitic disease, the country records about one million new cases every month.

The new document, that has heavily roped in the donor and private sector community, outlines activities that would ensure the currently recorded 30 percent prevalence rate of malaria declines further. With a proposed budget of $548 million, activities will focus on increasing the distribution of long lasting treated nets, indoor residual spraying, increasing access to affordable malaria medicines and capacity building of health workers in malaria diagnosis and treatment facilities.

In 2006, Kenya officially adopted artemisinin-based combinational therapies (ACTs) as its first line of treatment for malaria. Artemesinin was discovered by Tu Youyou, a Chinese scientist who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine early this week.

The heavy rains predicted to start anytime complicate matters in the health sector that has yet to stamp out a cholera outbreak, a waterborne disease that was first reported in January this year. Official figures indicate that in the first five months the pandemic has spread to 10 out of 47 counties and claimed 72 lives.

"With the looming risk of disruption of health services and possible displacement of communities, we in the health sector must work with the reality that the consequences of adverse events related to El Niño will need prompt and active management," said the minister.

The government has set aside $48 million and has put more than 70,000 personnel on standby in readiness for the destructive floods.



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