Drive to kick elephantiasis out of Kenya targets 3.5 million people
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.