Ministry blames city officials for cholera outbreak

Sunday July 16 2017

Dr Jackson Kioko, director of medical services, ministry of Health

Dr Jackson Kioko, director of medical services, ministry of Health, speaks during the Africa Health Agenda International Conference at Radisson Blue Hotel in Nairobi on March 7. 2017. He said that the Ministry reported to Nairobi county officials about contamination in Mathare and Kawangware. PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By VERAH OKEYO
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By COLLINS OMULO
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More cases of cholera are being reported in hospitals in Nairobi County as it emerged that the city’s health department had been informed of loopholes that the disease may ride on but ignored them.

And as the county government on Sunday began a crackdown on eateries and water vendors operating without valid licences in the city, patients emailed or texted the Nation about their having been diagnosed with cholera.

CONTAINMENT
Mr Stephen Manoa, an engineer, wrote that he fell sick after eating food at the three-day event at KICC, where Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich was taken ill.

Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko said the Ministry of Health reported to the county about contamination in Mathare and Kawangware and asked it to work with the Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company to contain it.

ISOLATION

Instead, ministry officials were told to “keep off county duties”.

Kenyatta National Hospital and other health facilities have had to create isolation wards, which were filled up, with a patient at Mater Hospital being asked to go elsewhere because the “isolation ward is full”.

CRACKDOWN
This came a day after County Health Executive Bernard Muia released a report showing 96 confirmed cases of cholera in the past two months, a figure that health workers however suspect to be modest.

On Sunday, Dr Muia said he had directed public health officers to crack down on illegal eateries and water bowsers.

PATHOGEN

The outbreak has caused a national outcry, especially from the medical fraternity, given the ease with which the cholera pathogen, which can annihilate an entire community in a matter of days, can be controlled.

Prof Sam Kariuki, the director of the Centre for Microbiology at the Kenya Medical Research Institute, said cholera thrives in poor sanitation and lack of water.

CONTAMINATION
His team traced some of the most virulent strains of typhoid and cholera to Mukuru kwa Njenga slums.

With illegal tapping of water and improper sewer management, supply to even the affluent neighbourhoods has been contaminated.