The Government through the Ministry of Health has started a surveillance exercise of elephantiasis in the coastal region to find out if it has been completely eradicated.
Among the counties targeted are Kilifi, Mombasa, Lamu, Tana River and Taita-Taveta Counties, where administering of drugs has been going on for the last five years, to eliminate the disease.
Officials from the Ministry of Health are targeting school going children in the counties, who represent a larger population. Elephantiasis is spread through an infected mosquito and often leads to stigma.
Speaking during a testing exercise at Ziwani-Vango Primary School in Madogo, Entomological Lab Technologist, Kanyi Gitonga, said that the exercise is meant to establish if the drugs given in the last five years have been effective.
“The Government has been releasing elephantiasis drugs in the last five years. This exercise is to assess the progress in eliminating the disease,” Kanyi said.
“We are hoping that our children who are seven (7) or eight (8) years old, now are free from elephantiasis, if they have been taking the drugs,” he added.
Kanyi said that they are testing a blood sample of the children with consent from their parents and giving the results a few minutes later.
“So far, we have not had a positive case. This means that the drugs and intervention measures to prevent elephantiasis have been working,” he said.
He urged the residents to seek treatment and to sleep under an insecticide treated mosquito net in order to prevent transmission.
The Government rolled out a massive door-to-door elephantiasis treatment exercise at the coastal region in November 2018, hoping to break transmission or end the disease completely by 2020.
According to medical experts, Elephantiasis causes localized retention of fluid in the legs (lymphedema) and retention of fluid in the testicular area (hydrocele) in some cases.
Although Hydrocele can be corrected by surgery, Lymphedema can only be managed by providing a minimum package of care.
This means that one has to keep the infected area clean at all times, adopt activities that will help fluid to circulate, clean wounds and generally provide an environment that will enable the patient to live with their condition comfortably.
By Erick Kyalo