The number of cholera patients at Nairobi Hospital has risen to 58 after four Huduma Namba clerks sent to register staff were infected, the Saturday Nation has learnt.
The clerks, who were at the hospital for two days, were offered breakfast and lunch by the management.
“On the April 13 and 14 our clerks were sent to register the Nairobi Hospital staff... Four of them experienced stomach problems,” said Madam Zuleka, the Assistant County Commissioner Kilimani Division.
She said that after completing the exercise the clerks went back to the facility for testing.
“Four of the 11 clerks tested positive and they are admitted at Nairobi Hospital; six of them are still waiting for their results while one tested negative,” she said.
The number of cholera patients admitted in various hospitals in the country rose to 62 this month as one died, the Ministry of Health said.
Data from the ministry shows that since the beginning of the year 1,350 suspected cholera cases have been reported, 72 were confirmed positive through laboratory tests.
So far, outbreaks have been reported in Kajiado, Narok, Machakos, Kiambu and Nairobi counties. Nairobi reported 201 suspected cholera cases between February 28 and April 17, of which 52 per cent were male and 42 per cent female.
Of these, the ministry said in a statement, only 12 cases were confirmed positive.
Last week, a worker died of the disease at Nairobi Hospital and 54 people were hospitalised. The hospital’s cafeteria was closed as management battled to contain the disease.
Six were admitted at Kenyatta National Hospital and another six at Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital. “Since January the adjacent counties of Narok, Kajiado, Machakos and Kiambu have reported cholera cases with some of their patients seeking treatment in Nairobi, which risks possible transmission,” said Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki in the statement.
“Nairobi has a high transit population, which poses challenges to cholera prevention and control.”
Nairobi County has earmarked three facilities: Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital, Mbagathi Hospital and Riruta Health Centre for admission and treatment of cholera patients.
Experts have raised concern that outbreak of the disease in this modern era is an indictment of the government for lack of commitment to contain preventable diseases.
“Kenya needs to strengthen its health system to effectively respond to cholera outbreaks,” said Ms Carol Wainaina, a research officer at the African Population Health Research Centre.
“Cholera is treatable, and more importantly, preventable. However, on several occasions Kenya’s health system has not been well-prepared to respond to outbreaks. This has included failure to identify and trace people who have the disease, as well as reporting and management of suspected cases,” she said.
“Epidemics can escalate quickly in countries where health systems are weak. The Ebola emergency in west Africa is a case in point.”
Dr Lukoye Atwoli, an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Moi University School of Medicine Dean, said a cholera outbreak is a sign that Nairobi’s waste disposal system is not up to scratch, hence human waste is mixing with water and food.
“In public health, a cholera epidemic says a lot about an organisation and the effectiveness of the health system than any sophisticated monitoring and evaluation assessment could uncover,” said Dr Atwoli.
“In a modern, open and democratic society, such as we aspire to become, citizens should not countenance any excuses for repeated epidemics of a disease that can only be transmitted through the mixture of human waste and drinking water.”
He said the government seems to have given up on healthy lives and is content to just get by.