NAIROBI, April 10 – Kenyans were urged by the government on Thursday to observe proper hygiene as a precautionary measure to avoid a further spread of the cholera outbreak that has hit parts of the country.
Director of Medical Services Dr James Nyikal said the epidemic, which occurred in 16 districts, was mainly caused by the use of contaminated water and lack of early diagnosis and treatment.
“The water they are using is contaminated and we are aware that in some places around Lake Victoria sewage passes directly into the water thus contaminating it,” Nyikal said. “We advise the people to ensure the safety of household water by either boiling or treating it with chlorine based tablets or solutions.”
The public was also told to always use a toilet and ensure that babies’ stool or water used to clean soiled clothing was disposed in the lavatory.
“Why not just dig latrines to protect your life? We will actually take public health measures against those who do not adhere to this,” Dr Nyikal warned.
“If people refuse to dig toilets, holes will still be dug and they will be buried in those holes.”
Dr Nyikal also issued a warning to owners of public eating premises saying any such place found not to meet hygiene and sanitation standards would be closed down.
He expressed concern over eating places and bus stops along the major highways such as in Busia, Kisumu, Kericho, Nakuru, Naivasha, Nairobi, Voi, Mtito Andei and Mombasa, categorising them as high risk areas.
The DMS said the Ministry of Health had already spent Sh18 million in medical supplies and banned food hawking in all the affected areas.
However, there are no reported cases in the Internally Displaced Person’s (IDP) camps.
“But we are on high alert because these are people at risk.”
Addressing a news conference, he singled out people between the ages of 15-44 as those at a higher risk.
More than 1,200 cases of cholera were reported in the last five months with 59 deaths.
“Most of the reported deaths occurred at home or while being taken to the hospital,” he noted.
The outbreak is spread across four provinces namely Nyanza, North Eastern, Rift valley and Western.
Nyanza topped the list with 750 cases and 45 deaths followed by North Eastern with 448 cases and 12 deaths.
Rift valley recorded 11 cases and two deaths while Western had eight cases and no deaths.
“In North Eastern province it is as a result of movement to and from neighbouring countries that have had cholera for a long time.”
The Ministry has embarked on public awareness campaigns on prevention and control of the disease.
“Kisumu East, Migori and Naivasha are still getting active reports of cholera incidences,” he said.