NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 7 – “When two Englishmen meet, their first talk is of the weather.” So quipped the famous writer Samuel Johnson. In recent times, though, the weather has become more than a conversation starter. It has become a matter of grave concern to people all over the world. Why? Because the weather which was always unpredictable anyway seems to be increasingly erratic.,
It is for this reason that the Ministry of Health has developed a national contingency plan to ensure generators are provided to hospitals as back-up for the anticipated power failure during the El Nino rainy season.
According to Health Principal Secretary Khadijah Kassachoon, the ministry is also preparing to deal with a surge in water borne diseases, communication failures and a higher risk of aflatoxin related infections.
“In the past, Kenya has managed emergencies arising from floods but the Kenya Meteorological Department forecast that the coming El-Nino rains will be way above what has been experienced. Some of the challenges anticipated in the Health sector include the outbreak of water related diseases, supply chain challenges for medical and non medical commodities and constraints with routine emergency referrals,” she stated.
She pointed out that the plan provides a guide on what needs to be done to ensure a timely, consistent and coordinated preparedness in the health sector across the country.
Speaking during the launch of the revised Kenya National Malaria Strategy 2009 – 2018, she emphasized the need for a concerted effort by all stakeholders to meet these challenges.
“The Ministry of Health El Nino contingency plan aims at ensuring the health sector anticipates and prepares for these hazards and challenges that are likely to accompany the flooding while allowing continuity of essential health care services during and after the El-Nino rains,” she said. “The plan emphasizes the strengthening of partnerships and inter-sectoral collaboration in preparedness and response to ensure a successful management of the challenges,” she stated.
She observed that with the ongoing cholera outbreak, a conscious effort in disease prevention and control is mandatory.
“With the looming risk of disruption of health services and possible displacement of communities, we in the health sector must work with the reality that the consequences of adverse events related to the El Nino will need prompt and active management,” she said.
“I therefore call upon all of you to work together to help our country attain the goal of preventing excess morbidity and mortality from the El-Nino rains by actively supporting the implementation of the El Nino contingency planning,” she stated.
El Nino is caused when the waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean off the coast of Peru warm, leading to changes in weather patterns around the world. In East Africa it causes heavy rains during the short rains from October to December, with little influence on the long rains that occur from March to May.
Since Kenya’s independence in 1963, two especially strong El Nino events have been recorded, in 1982 and 1997.
The devastating 2011 drought which spawned a nationwide fundraising effort in Kenya was partly due to La Nina.
In the meantime, the National Malaria Strategy covering the period 2009–2017 has been developed in line with the Government’s first Medium-Term Plan of the Kenya Vision 2030, Strategic Development Goals, as well as Roll Back Malaria partnership goals and targets for malaria control.
It is a product of extensive consultation and collaboration between all stakeholders and establishes a strategic framework for the delivery of malaria control interventions as well as for monitoring and evaluating performance.