18 May 2018

Kenya: WHO Declares Kenya Free of Guinea Worm

Photo: Diana Ngila/Daily Nation
Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki displays the certificate issued by World Health Organization-Kenya representative Rudi Eggers, validating Kenya as Guinea Worm-free, during an event at Panafric Hotel in Nairobi.

The World Health Organization 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 on Thursday.

"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.

ERADICATION

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," Ms Kariuki noted.

"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.

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