Kenya

Kenya: Cholera alert

From WEEKLY NEWS 09/99 5 March 1999
Future outbreaks of cholera are inevitable in Kenya, the International Federation warned this week. Calling for far greater efforts to prevent the disease, it said that despite strenuous interventions the conditions that cause cholera remain. It is no longer difficult to tell where and when it will strike next. The only unpredictable thing is its intensity.

These comments came as the Kenya Red Cross delivered medical supplies to Coast Province's Kwale District where the cholera toll has been rising and the authorities report that 1,200 people have sought medical care. Kenya Red Cross branch coordinator, Kennedy Gesira, fears the true figures may be considerably higher. "The distances some people have to walk from remote areas prevents many from reaching health centres, and because of cultural beliefs some do not even try." Cholera is now endemic in East Africa and the Kenya Red Cross, supported by the Federation, is intensifying a campaign that, in Nyanza Province alone, has trained 3,000 community health workers to increase public awareness. Al Panico, head of the Federation's regional delegation, says poor hygiene, a lack of clean water and proper sanitation, environmental pollution, and widespread ignorance of the disease contribute to its spread. The rising number of people who live in squalor, and the inability of health services to cope with an ever-increasing demand for their services, exacerbate the problem.

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