Re­lax! We are fi­nally free of Guinea worm

UN agency says the gov­ern­ment’s efforts to erad­i­cate the dis­ease have paid off

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - FRONT PAGE - BY AGGREY OMBOKI

The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion has de­clared Kenya Guinea worm-free, giv­ing a ring­ing en­dorse­ment to the gov­ern­ment’s efforts to fight the dis­ease. Health Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Si­cily Kar­iuki termed the award “a val­i­da­tion of Kenya’s Guinea worm erad­i­ca­tion efforts” when she re­ceived the cer­tifi­cate from the UN agency at Panafric Ho­tel in Nairobi yes­ter­day.

The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion has de­clared Kenya Guinea worm-free, giv­ing a ring­ing en­dorse­ment to the gov­ern­ment’s efforts to fight the dis­ease.

Health Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Si­cily Kar­iuki termed the award “a val­i­da­tion of Kenya’s Guinea worm erad­i­ca­tion efforts,” when she re­ceived the cer­tifi­cate from the UN agency at Panafric Ho­tel in Nairobi yes­ter­day.

“The cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of the sec­ond dis­ease to be suc­cess­fully elim­i­nated in Kenya af­ter Small Pox in­deed val­i­dates our valiant efforts,” she said, adding that the coun­try is de­ter­mined to erad­i­cate more dis­eases. The guinea worm achieve­ment was just a mile­stone in the bat­tle to en­sure more dis­eases no longer ex­ist on Kenyan soil.

“While celebrating our suc­cess, we need to col­lec­tively an­tic­i­pate and man­age the con­tin­u­ous threat of re-emer­gence of erad­i­cated dis­eases. The con­tin­ued threat of im­por­ta­tion of Guinea Worm cases from South Su­dan and Ethiopia and the need to en­sure that our sur­veil­lance is ro­bust enough to de­tect and con­tain cases promptly, when­ever and wher­ever they may oc­cur, re­mains a pri­or­ity on our health­care agenda,” she said.

In De­cem­ber 2017, a team from the In­ter­na­tional Com­mis­sion for the Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of Guinea Worm Erad­i­ca­tion con­firmed that the dis­ease no longer ex­ists within the coun­try’s na­tional borders.

“Beyond Guinea Worm, Kenya is on the path to­wards more suc­cesses on the dis­ease erad­i­ca­tion front. The coun­try is well placed to elim­i­nate ma­ter­nal and neona­tal tetanus this year. In the late 1980s, tetanus used to kill about seven out of ev­ery 1,000 chil­dren but that rate is now down to less than one per ev­ery 1,000 chil­dren, a reduction of more than 90 per cent,” she said, adding that the coun­try is tar­get­ing elim­i­nat­ing mother-to-child trans­mis­sion of HIV and con­gen­i­tal or in­her­ited syphilis by 2021.

“Early signs of the erad­i­ca­tion of the (in­her­ited HIV con­di­tion) are al­ready emerg­ing with some health fa­cil­i­ties re­port­ing zero mother-to-child trans­mis­sion of HIV over the past year,” said Mrs Kar­iuki.

“As a coun­try, we are also work­ing on the elim­i­na­tion of ele­phan­ti­a­sis by 2020 and tra­choma by 2019. Ele­phan­ti­a­sis, the treat­able par­a­sitic in­fec­tion which is transmitted through mos­qui­toes, ought to be elim­i­nated through mass treat­ment with ap­pro­pri­ate an­tibi­otics,” she added. Other dis­eases tar­geted are cer­vi­cal can­cer and Hep­ati­tis C.

2020 Year by which the gov­ern­ment hopes it will have erad­i­cated ele­phan­ti­a­sis

When the 2019 Gov­ern­ment hopes to get rid of tra­choma

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