Kerio Valley battles rising malaria cases

Baringo County Health Executive Mary Panga visits a malaria-hit area in Tiaty last year. [Mercy Kahenda, Standard]
The Department of Public Health in Baringo County has expressed concerns following a steady rise in the number of malaria cases along the Kerio Valley.

According to the county health report, at least at 2,240 cases of malaria were recorded in one hospital alone in 2019.

The cases at Ayatya Hospital in Baringo North rose from 2,018 recorded in 2018 and 2,077 recorded in 2017, with highest cases having been 2,357 recorded in 2016.

Public Health Chief Officer Winnie Bore blamed the surge on delayed supply of anti-malaria drugs by the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa). 

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An acute shortage of antimalarial drugs was reported in the months of October, November and December last year. However, Kemsa communication manager Elizabeth Mwai said she was not aware of the delays.

Dr Bore said there was no malaria outbreak locally at the time, despite the stated surge in cases.

“Currently, we are not having an outbreak of malaria, but there is increase in the cases that were not properly managed after the drugs agency delayed to supply us with antimalarial drugs,” she said.

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Research conducted

According to Bore, the department conducted a research at Kerio Valley following fears of an outbreak.

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The research established that patients seeking healthcare were not able to receive treatment due to lack of drugs.

Hospitals located along Kerio Valley are Kapluk, Keturwo, Katibel, Ayatya and Kaptiony.

Bore said the county had paid Kemsa Sh60 million for fresh supplies and that these were delivered two weeks ago.

The antimalarial drugs and malaria testing kits have been distributed to hospitals along the valley.

“The county wrote a letter to Kemsa seeking to be allowed to purchase antimalarial drugs from other suppliers, following patients’ outcry,” she said.

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According to the report, failure by locals to effectively use mosquito nets even with the heavy rains also contributed to the rising cases.

“Though heavy downpour contributed to breeding of mosquitoes, locals have also been found not to be sleeping inside mosquito nets,” the report indicated.

Currently, public health officers and volunteers from several organisations are distributing mosquito nets in affected areas.

At least 2,000 mosquito nets have been distributed in Kapluk, Keturwo, Katibel, Ayatya and Kaptiony locations.

In September last year, malaria killed at least seven people in Tiaty, most of them children below the age of five. In 2017, an outbreak of malaria in the sub-county killed at least 20 people. [Mercy Kahenda]

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Public HealthBaringo CountyKerio ValleyKemsaMalaria