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Experts call for health approach to combat pandemics

A Director at the Infectious Disease Epidemiologist International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Dr. Bernard Bett, has said that there is a need for different ways of thinking to combat the continuous threats of pathogens.

Dr. Bett noted that the Ministry of Health, the Department of Veterinary Services, the Kenya Medical Research Institute, and the Isiolo County Government were working together to understand the transmission patterns of the fever along the Ewaso Nyiro basin.

Dr. Bett, who was speaking in Garissa town, further notes that there were cases of infection of wild animals, though there is no clear data on the same, and that there was also no record of human-to-human or animal-to-animal transmission.

“The disease occurs in two main transmission cycles. There is an endemic cycle which happens without us noticing whether the virus is affecting people or livestock, and so the cases continue to increase,” Dr. Bett said.

“When the ideal conditions for amplification occur, which are mainly caused by heavy rains, flooding, or dam construction, the population of the mosquito goes so high that it reaches the threshold for an epidemic to occur,” he added.

Prof. Salome Bukachi of the Sociocultural Dynamics of RVF Anthropology, Gender, and African Studies at the University of Nairobi, said that there is a need to do community engagements to help in information sharing on diseases, thus making sure that people do not go along with wrong perceptions, which may increase risk aspects.

Prof. Bukachi regretted that there were risks in the communities, especially where fevers or other diseases were diagnosed as malaria, making it hard to prescribe the right medication.

“When an outbreak that is new occurs in a community, the index of suspicion of that disease will be low, so it is important that the health workers also are sensitised about these diseases,” she said.

By Erick Kyalo

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