Food outlets shut in war on cholera

Tuesday May 26 2009

By By MWANGI NDIRANGU and KNA

Twenty food outlets in Ongata Rongai have been closed in a government move to contain a cholera outbreak on Nairobi’s doorstep. The closure came as cases of cholera treated at the town’s main health centre rose to 14.

The food premises shut by the Public Health ministry include hotels, butcheries and restaurants, found operating below the required hygienic standards. District public health officer James Malusha said the ministry had also imposed a ban on hawking of food in the town until the disease is contained.

Dr Malusha said the measures taken were necessary to ensure the disease did not spread. Ongata Rongai is 30 kilometres from Nairobi and many of its residents work in the capital. More than 55 people have died of the disease in the country since March.

Dr Malusha said no cholera patient had died due to prompt and effective management of the infected by medical personnel at the health centre. He said the ministry was conducting public awareness programmes to ensure high standards of hygiene and clean environment in homes were maintained.

Public barazas (meetings)are being used to teach people basic hygiene practices such as washing hands with soap after visiting toilets and before eating, and boiling or treating drinking water. In Samburu East District, five schools have been closed due to an outbreak of cholera.

The affected nursery schools are in Waso Division, where the disease has so far claimed a life since it broke out early last week. The institutions are Lorubae, Muslim School, Marati, Megari and Nashami.

Still admitted

District medical officer of health Fredrick Ndeki said the schools were closed due to water shortages and would only be reopened after the disease is contained. By Tuesday, three people were still admitted to Archer’s Post Catholic Dispensary but medical officers said they were out of danger.

Dr Ndeki said they had almost succeeded in bringing the situation under control but local leaders differed. Many people, they maintained, continued to be infected.