KENYA: KSh100,000 offer to anyone who reports a Guinea Worm case

October  2016 MOHNews;  The Ministry of Health is offering a cash reward of KSh100,000 to anyone who reports an actual Guinea Worm case. This comes ahead of the World Health Organization (WHO) certification exercise scheduled for February 2017, as Kenya seeks to be declared Guinea Worm free.

Speaking in Nairobi on Wednesday, Head of the Neglected Tropical Diseases Unit Dr. Sultani Matendechero explained that Kenya is keen on acquiring the coveted certification and enhancing her surveillance efforts.

He revealed that a team from WHO come to Kenya early next year to carry out the certification exercise and ascertain that the country had eradicated the disease.

There are four countries that are currently in the pre-certification stage. These are the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Angola, Kenya and Sudan. While DRC and Angola have never had a Guinea Worm case, Kenya and Sudan have reported cases in the past but have since eliminated them. However, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Mali and Chad have not yet eradicated the disease.

“The last indigenous Guinea Worm case was reported in Kenya in 1994. In 2005 another case was reported but it had been imported from a neighboring country. This certification will therefore be a big milestone for us as a country and the KSh100,000 award remains for anyone who reports a case and it’s actually proven to be Guinea Worm,” he said.

The Guinea Worm is a long, thin, white worm that emerges from the skin and is transmitted through drinking contaminated water. One is supposed to immediately report any suspected case to a health worker or through 1191, 0732 353535 and 0729 471414.

This will ensure that health workers investigate and document the suspected case within 24 hours. If it is found to be Guinea Worm, the worm will be removed in order to prevent further spread. A National Guinea Worm Eradication Certification Committee is already in place to steer this process.

“We have had instances where people have reported Cutaneous Larvae Migrans and Sparganosis as Guinea Worm because they almost look alike. Nevertheless, our teams will still verify each and every case that is reported,” added Dr. Matendechero.

Before acquiring the certification, Kenya is expected to have increased the public’s awareness on Guinea Worm and must have ensured that health facilities are well equipped to handle any such case. The level of public awareness must be at least 50 percent at the national level and 70 percent in the three Counties where the disease was formerly endemic. These Counties are Turkana, West Pokot and Trans Nzoia.

“We have to go out there and ensure that Kenyans know what Guinea Worm is and that they know what to do in case of an incident. The cash reward is therefore meant to provoke the general public so that they look out for Guinea Worm cases before the certification team comes,” explained Dr. Matendechero.

However, there are 15 other NTDs that are suspected or confirmed to be endemic to Kenya. These include intestinal worms, Elephantiasis, Bilharzia, Trachoma, Kala-azar, Dengue and Chikungunya, Rabies, Guinea Worm Disease, Leprosy, Hydatid disease, Tapeworms, Liver flukes, River blindness, Sleeping sickness and Mycetoma.

The recent launch of the Kenya National Strategic Plan for the control of NTDs provides a blue print that will guide efforts in controlling them. The Ministry of Health has been working with partners such as Evidence Action, MSF, GlaxoSmith Kline Kenya, the Children’s Fund, Fred Hollows Foundation, RedCross Kenya, KEMRI, KEMSA and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to run various programmes to eradicate NTDs.

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