Drive to kick ele­phan­ti­a­sis out of Kenya tar­gets 3.5 mil­lion peo­ple

The Star (Kenya) - - Politics -

Kenya has launched a new push to erad­i­cate ele­phan­ti­a­sis. The drive tar­gets 3.5 mil­lion.

The ini­tia­tive, which starts on Fri­day and runs for three days, will in­volve mass ad­min­is­tra­tion of drugs fol­lowed by sur­gi­cal op­er­a­tions for those suf­fer­ing from the dis­ease.

The en­tire drive will cost about Sh1 bil­lion, mainly in form of drugs from donors. “It is part of an on­go­ing cam­paign to elim­i­nate ele­phan­ti­a­sis by 2020, which is in line with the global tar­gets for the elim­i­na­tion and con­trol of ne­glected trop­i­cal dis­eases,” head of the Ne­glected Trop­i­cal Dis­eases Unit Dr Sul­tani Ma­ten­dechero (pic­tured) told the Star.

He said com­mu­nity health vol­un­teers are mov­ing door-to-door, giv­ing out preven­tive drugs in Kwale county.

On Fri­day, they will move to Mom­basa, Kil­ifi, Lamu and Tana River coun­ties, and Taveta sub­county in Taita Taveta.

Ele­phan­ti­a­sis is spread eas­ily from one per­son to an­other by mos­qui­toes, just like malaria. It can cause se­vere swelling of the limbs, breasts, and scro­tum, as well as thick­en­ing and hard­en­ing of the skin. Kenya is among the last places where the dis­ease thrives.

An es­ti­mated 80,000 Kenyan men, mostly from the Coast, have been af­fected in the scro­tum and about 55,000 peo­ple have swollen legs.

While scro­tal swelling can be cor­rected via surgery, the mor­bid swelling of legs can only be man­aged by pro­vid­ing a min­i­mum pack­age of care. Ma­ten­dechero said the gov­ern­ment will carry out the treat­ment for five years to bring down the preva­lence rate.

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