Blame Health ministry for spread of Rift Valley fever

Mundia Mundia, Jr. | 10 Jan 2007
Kenya Times

As for Kenya, whether over 75 per cent of residents of North Eastern province and Kilifi regions live below the poverty line, with 90 per cent of the two populations unemployed, lack of prevention of mosquito breeding and control mechanisms have negatively influenced the well-being of such populations.

Thus DDT not only has the potential to prevent malaria but also controls the spread of Rift Valley fever, Dengue fever, Yellow fever among many other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes as vectors.

Surprisingly and pointing straight on the forehead, the Ministry of Health, even with the consent of WHO to use DDT, chose to lax its muscle in terms of controlling breeding and mosquito movement. The consequences of flooding being the breeding grounds. Moreover it is upon the MoH to come up with a disaster and management policy on health through community participation as a security issue.

Even before then, disease outbreak during flooding ought to be classified as a security risk as terrorism and which needs proper preventive medical armoury.

For the Rift Valley fever bunyaviuses from animals are picked up by a biting mosquito to be readily injected into the human victim. For malaria sporozoites reach the human liver where they reproduce forming new merozoites that enter the blood stream then burrow into the red blood cells causing bleeding.

This happens at an interval of 48-hour cycle when new blood cells are infected and destroyed. Worse still death quickly follows when the two infections attack the brain. Other public health diseases such as cholera and typhoid only exacerbate symptoms leaving children below 5 years and pregnant mothers approach deathbeds sooner.

As a matter of concern the ministries of Agriculture and Livestock are being over-indulged by the Ministry of Health due to poor preparedness of preventable and readily controlled public health issue. Previously the MoH had made errors including brainwashing Kenyans that the recent outbreak of disease in North Eastern province had been the deadly Ebola fever. This gave room for the infection to spread when diagnosis and treatment of Rift Valley fever were delayed.

Also the MoH lacked a reliable data collecting and surveillance team of public health diseases associated with flooding. Most importantly the MoH had not ensured that there was proper infrastructure to control disease as a primary necessity. It only opted to 'put the cart before the horse' by treating rather than preventing spread of disease.

Thus the MoH ought to re-educate its pubic health staff on diagnosing; therapeutics and proper treatment in order to save innocent lives at the same time intensify its public health programmes even when there are no outbreaks of diseases. Taking further grassroots research on disease patterns in relation to current climatic and environmental changes may help.

Changing climatic patterns, extensive human migration and proper screening of those leaving one geographical area to a different one apart from human and livestock vaccination that ought to be parameters to help us make decisions on health and disease.

It is upon us to chose to move away from health policies on public health that propagate medical-based genocide with many preventable deaths as statistics for publication.

http://www.timesnews.co.ke/10jan07/nwsstory/opinion2.html