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Kenya urged to scale up investments
in sanitation amid cholera outbreak

By Christine Lagat NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government should channel new resources towards modernization of urban sewerage infrastructure in order to contain a cholera outbreak that has claimed dozens of lives since last year, an official from a pan-African health lobby said on Wednesday.

Githinji Gitahi, the Group CEO of the Nairobi-based Amref Health Africa, said the recent cholera outbreak should serve as a wake-up call for the government and bilateral partners to invest in preventive measures like basic sanitation for all citizens.

“The resurgence of cholera in several parts of Kenya has revived a national discourse about the disease. Special attention should be directed towards prevention measures like handwashing, water treatment and food hygiene,” Gitahi remarked in a commentary published by the Standard Newspaper

Kenya has since early this year witnessed an escalating cholera outbreak linked to water scarcity and poor hygienic practices in urban slums and rural villages.

A report from the ministry of health indicated that a cholera outbreak had affected 2,210 people in 16 counties by mid-August this year.

So far, 32 people have died from cholera in the worst affected counties and the toll could rise against a backdrop of weak surveillance and response strategy.

Gitahi noted that climatic shocks, ill-equipped health facilities and limited investments in rural sanitation have worsened the burden of water-borne diseases in Kenya.

“We need stricter enforcement of public health standards and constant disease surveillance for cholera and other public health threats,” said Gitahi, adding that prosper housing and improved living conditions are key to preventing cholera outbreaks in urban areas.

He revealed that Amref Health Africa has partnered with industry to improve the capacity of community health workers in Kenya to detect and treat cholera cases.

“Integrating community health workers into the formal health system is essential for cholera prevention. They can help keep communities out of danger through hygiene education, surveillance and treatment,” said Gitahi.

He urged the private sector to invest in water, sanitation and hygiene programs in order to lift the living standards of local communities.



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