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Ministries join hands in war against infectious diseases

May 07, 2009: Public Health Ministry is seeking to rope in its Water counterpart in campaigns against the hygiene-related diseases that have caused a scare in the world and parts of the country in recent weeks.

The ministry says both the spread of swine flu and ‘the mysterious Bungoma disease’ can effectively be kept at bay if people practised good personal hygiene and queried the source of water used at home.

The role of the Water ministry in the campaigns, public health officials say, is to sensitise people on water safety.

Public Health minister, Beth Mugo, says the country may not be hit at all by the swine flu as international cases of the viral disease have also started to drop.

“We have formed a technical committee that meets everyday to assess the results from our 26 evaluation centres countrywide and no single case of the flu has been reported,” Mrs Mugo said.

But the screening of visitors at the airports and other entry points will continue until the disease is controlled.

 
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Cholera and dysentery

She said her ministry has isolated and equipped some wards at Kenyatta National Hospital and Nairobi Hospital to handle any cases of flu outbreak.

On Wednesday, the ministry said the tests by public health officials have uncovered that the ‘Bungoma mysterious disease’ that has been reported in a section of media as claiming lives in Western Kenya were cholera and dysentery.

In Bungoma, the minister said, only one person of the 21 isolated cases died while 10 were diagnosed with cholera and dysentery.

 

 

Cholera, usually restricted to remote regions with perennial water problems, this year caused panic to health providers after spreading to zones such as Kericho, which have traditionally remained safe.

“The problem with diseases such as cholera and dysentery is that measures to addresses them cuts across health and water ministries and that’s why we are appealing that water people use at home be properly treated,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mrs Mugo yesterday inaugurated a new Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) Board to spearhead reforms.

The new board headed by Dr Muinga Chokwe has an enormous task of restoring Kemri’s image as a respected research institution.

at a time that the institution faces charges of financial mismanagement and falling levels of public health research.

Dr Chokwe’s appointment came after a month of consultation on who should chair the institution’s board after Dr Mugo’s earlier appointee, Dr Sopiato Likimani declined the position last month citing possible conflict of interest as her husband was already a director of one of the organisations affiliated to Kemri.

or by email at ariaratnam@asu.edu

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