The frequent cholera outbreaks experienced in certain parts of Kenya will cease over the next one month according to the Ministry of Health.
Speaking at a meeting in Nairobi on Tuesday, Dr Ian Njeru, Head of the Division of Disease Surveillance and Response at the Ministry noted that currently, Kenya has nearly 5,000 cases of cholera and 98 deaths reported since the outbreak began last year.
The meeting, Tackling the Frequent Outbreaks in Kenya, which was organised by the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP) and the Ministry, discussed urgent actions that should be taken to tackle water and sanitation challenges in Kenya.
According to the Ministry, 16 counties have been affected by the cholera outbreak since December 16, 2014. They are Nairobi, Migori, Homa Bay, Bomet, Mombasa, Nakuru, Murang'a, Kirinyaga, Baringo, Kiambu, Embu, Machakos, Narok, Kilifi, Trans Nzoia and Turkana counties. However, of the affected counties, only 11 have active outbreaks.
As of June 29, 2015, a total of 4,938 cases and 97 deaths had been reported nationally and distributed as follows: Nairobi 1,090 cases, 24 deaths; Migori 915 cases, 12 deaths; Homa Bay (1st wave) 377 cases, five deaths; Homa Bay (2nd wave) 111, one death.
Others are Bomet 272 cases, two deaths; Mombasa 226 cases, 10 deaths; Murang'a 633 cases, five deaths; Nakuru 281 cases, 17 deaths; Baringo 58 cases, one death; Kirinyaga 417 cases, two deaths; Kiambu 136 cases , seven deaths; Embu 201 cases, two deaths; Machakos 80 cases, five deaths; Narok 20 cases, zero deaths; Kilifi 54 cases, one death and Turkana 46 cases, zero deaths.
However, over the last one week, 64 new cases were reported in Nakuru (three), Nairobi (19) Muranga (three), Mombasa (10), Embu (one), Machakos (two), Narok (two), Kilifi (six), Trans Nzoia (10), Kiambu (two) and Turkana (six).
At the meeting, it was noted that cholera was affecting more urban dwellers, especially those living in slums, compared to their rural counterparts partly due to infrastructure challenges.
For instance, in Nairobi County, it was largely agreed that the frequent bursting of sewer lines, which are currently operating on full capacity, might have played a key role in the cholera outbreak.
“We need to address the sewage challenges and also identify vulnerable spots that can easily spread cholera,” said Prof Mohamed Karama, a researcher with Kemri.
“Between 200–300 slum dwellers share one latrine. This has been a challenge especially during the rainy seasons as human wastes flood their residence,” said Raphael Muli, Nairobi County's Chief County Public Officer.
Experts at the meeting called for long-term efforts aimed at eliminating cholera outbreaks in the country as opposed to the current reactive efforts that are put in place whenever there are outbreaks.
Experts called for committed government investment in tackling eatery and sanitation challenges both at the national and county levels.