NAIROBI, May 8 – The government has stepped up efforts towards the provision of preventive health by committing to establish a fully fledged Sanitation Department in the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation.
Minister Beth Mugo announced on Thursday that her ministry would initially facilitate capacity building for ministry officials and solicit for technical support from the government and development partners.
Speaking as she hosted US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger in her office, Mugo said that most of the diseases in the country could be averted by ensuring high standards of hygiene.
Mugo said: “A lot of diseases are coming from unclean water and lack of even pit latrines; we intend to make sure public health officers are going to really work hard and even prosecute if need be.”
Poor sanitation is attributed to such diseases as Cholera, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a killer disease not just in the country but also in the entire sub-Saharan Africa region.
Mugo said she plans to work together with the ministries of Water and Environment in her efforts. Already Water Minister Charity Ngilu has pledged to ensure that all households especially in the vulnerable slum settlements are connected with clean and safe water.
The new ministry is mandated with spearheading preventive health care campaigns in the country.
Preventive health is hinted to be the long term solution to many killer diseases and is cheaper than curative health but needs massive investments.
The government has been partnering with foreign missions and other development partners to sponsor major projects towards this end.
The US government is a major partner in the HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria campaigns. For this year alone it has committed over Sh30 billion for HIV programs under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
On his part Ranneberger pledged his government’s commitment for continued support in development projects in the country.
“I am here to highlight our desire to work with the Coalition Government to get results to show delivery to the people and make our collaboration effective,” said the envoy.
He indicated that his government would be offering both technical and material assistance towards preventive health care initiatives.
The Ministry of Health is the largest benefactor of the US Projects in the country all of which are through indirect funding.
The government has also stepped up its efforts in fighting Malaria in the country. It is currently spraying households in the vulnerable regions of Nairobi and Nyanza provinces. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry Dr James Nyikal indicated that the government plans to issue more than 1 million treated nets annually to scale down the prevalence of the disease to less then 10 percent.
Meanwhile, the East African Breweries Limited has joined hands with a non-governmental organisation Maji na Ufanisi and launched a Sh5 million water and sanitation project at the Muthurwa Market and Bus Terminus.
While launching the project Nairobi Mayor Geoffrey Majiwa urged the traders to manage the project efficiently and ensure cleanliness in the market to attract more customers.
“When we have a facility like this we know that there are so many people coming in here, so it is our duty to make sure that the sanitation is well provided for,” Majiwa said.
The CEO of Maji na Ufanisi, Betty Muraguri, stressed the need for increased partnership in the area.
“For Kenya to make progress and attain the Millennium Development Goals, we must make steps towards providing safe drinking water and basic sanitation,” she said.
It is estimated that more than 10,000 hawkers use the facility, which serves 100,000 people even day. The current sanitation facilities are already overstretched.