Kenya: Malaria outbreak kills 30 in Northern Kenya amid public health crisis

Nairobi, Kenya  (PANA) – A nationwide malaria outbreak has claimed the lives of 30 people, mostly children, in the dry and remote regions of Kenya and along the coastal region, top government officials said Thursday.

The Chairman of the Council of Governors, Josephat Nanok, said the malaria outbreak and its rapid spread has been aided by the lack of drugs and the ill-preparedness of local health facilities.

According to the Council of Governors, representing 47 County Governors, five counties have particularly been hard-hit by the malaria outbreak.

At least 26 people have been killed by the malaria  outbreak in Marsabit County, neighbouring Ethiopia to the northern part of Kenya, Nanok said on Thursday.

“The only County worst affected by the outbreak is Marsabit County which has lost 26 people. They have arranged for drugs to be airlifted to Ileret to the north of the County,” said Nanok, who is the Governor of Turkana County in Northern Kenya.

Speaking during the signing of a return to work agreement between the Kenyan government and the Union of Clinical officers who recently joined a strike by nurses now entering over 120 days, the Governor said the prolonged nurses strike was partly to blame for the worsening public health crisis in the East African nation.

In Baringo, a County worst affected by internal security challenges and cattle rustling, the Governor, Benjamin Cheboi, said 164 cases of malaria were reported and four children  had died as a result of the malaria outbreak.

“It is not true that we have lost 13 people as reported by some media outlets. We have lost four children and our officers were investigating the reported death of one more this morning,” Cheboi told reporters.

“The spread of the malaria is a concern to us. It is continuing to spread but we have managed to contain its spread,” Cheboi said.

Kenyan health Ministry Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu, said the government had ordered the state-owned medical supplies agency, KEMSA - the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency, to provide medical supplies to county health facilities on credit to help manage the health crisis.

The County governments, which are tasked with the management of public health facilities under the re-organized system of governance adopted by the 2010 constitution, have decried poor investment in the health sector.

In Baringo County, Governor Cheboi said the sheer size of each county ward, some as large as 800 square km, made it difficult to manage the supplies and the lack of medical personnel partly complicated the response.

“We managed to appeal to volunteers including nurses and the situation is now stable. The Kenya Red Cross also came in to help us deal with the malaria outbreak,” Cheboi said.

Kenyan nurses have been on strike for over 120 days to press for better pay.

Mailu said talks with the striking nurses have been continuing but the nurses were not showing signs of compromise.

“It is unfortunate the strike has continued until now. We would have reached an understanding on those matters that have to be resolved when we sit around the table but you are often left in the dark as the nurses union leaders insist on further consultations with members and without further updates,” the Cabinet Secretary said.

The malaria outbreak has been reported in Lamu, along the Indian ocean coastline and in the more arid lands of Baringo and West Pokot County in Kenya.
-0- PANA AO/VAO 5Oct2017

05 october 2017 12:24:18

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