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Drug administration drive to curb neglected tropical diseases

Machakos Deputy Governor Francis Mwangangi has launched a mass drug administration drive to curb the spread of neglected tropical diseases in Machakos by breaking the transmission cycle.

Mwangangi, who was speaking at the Kenyatta stadium in Machakos town, said that the exercise that will also be carried out in the counties of Meru, Kitui, Makueni, and Tharaka Nithi is supported by the Kenyan Government in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), and it targets Bilharzia and soil-transmitted worms.

He added that the drug administration exercise will be spearheaded by the County Community Health Promoters (CHP) at the household level from Thursday, June 8, 2023, to Sunday, June 11, and will be free of charge.

Mwangangi hailed the CHP for the good job they are doing at the grassroots level by interacting on a one-on-one basis with the locals and encouraging them to visit the nearest health facility for checkups.

The Deputy Governor sympathised with the CHP staff, who have not been receiving their stipends for a long period of time, and assured them that they will be reimbursed for all the money that they required from the county.

“We will follow up, and in case any single cent gets lost anywhere, we will recover it and give it to the people who were supposed to receive it,” added Mwangangi.

Mwangangi further noted that the National Government has promised to pay the CHP 50% of their stipend and the County to pay the other half, and Machakos County is in agreement with the directive and has already budgeted for the amount.

On his part, Machakos Chief Executive Member for Health Daniel Yumbya said that neglected tropical diseases (NTD) are a top priority in WHO programmes globally and urged Machakos residents to take advantage of the free treatment of intestinal worms and Bilharzia.

Yumbya added that the exercise, which is funded by WHO and the national government, targets to eliminate bilharzia and intestinal worms among six million adults and children in Machakos, Meru, Kitui, Makueni, and Tharaka nithi.

Yumbya appealed to Machakos people to practice high hygiene standards as a way of stopping the disease by washing their hands frequently and also washing all edible fruits and vegetables before eating or cooking them.

“Bilharzia is caused by dirty water, and intestinal worms are caused by dirty vegetables, which are harvested from the soil and contain some viruses, so it’s important to thoroughly wash them before use,” added Yumbya.

The WHO representative, Dr Mona Almudhwahi, said that they are delighted to support the implementation of interventions for neglected tropical diseases in the Eastern Region.

Dr Mona said the launch marks a key milestone where the WHO road map targets the elimination of the two diseases as a public health problem by 2030.

She pointed out that some of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), such as quality education, clean water, and sanitation, cannot be implemented if they do not tackle neglected tropical diseases.

Dr Mona said that for the treatment to be effective, they have to reach at least 75% of the people in the country, but so far they have reached 41%.

By Anne Kangero

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