The country has recorded a sharp decline in cases of typhoid, diarrhoea and dysentery as Kenyans adhere to coronavirus public health measures that promote hygiene, the Ministry of Health has revealed.
The measures include frequent hand washing, using hand sanitisers and social distancing.
In a new report dubbed trend of water related cases before and during Covid-19 outbreaks January to September 2019 and 2020, the ministry reports that 1,941,856 cases of diarrhoea were recorded from January to September this year, compared with 2,816,345 reported in the same period last year.
The report released on Monday also shows that in January this year, the country recorded 295,866 cases of diarrhoea which slightly reduced to 256,568 in February and 257,790 in March.
In April there was a significant reduction of the cases to 167,846.
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Director of Public Health Francis Kuria said the hygiene measures have greatly helped. “Though Covid-19 continues to hit the country, we have learned how hygiene measures have enhanced a decline in number of waterborne diseases,” said Dr Kuria.
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“People are washing their hands more often to curb the spread of Covid-19. But in essence, they are preventing the spread of other communicable diseases.”
Cases of typhoid recorded in 2020 from the month of January to September also reduced from 2,816345 reported in the same period in 2019 to 1,941,856.
A total of 41,619 cases of typhoid were recorded in January this year. They reduced to 38,627 in February, and went up to 43,016 cases in before going down drastically to 28,595 in April as the hygiene measures kicked in.
Cases of dysentery recorded are also on the decline. The report notes that from March to September, only 38,816 cases were reported, compared to 57,846 cases recorded in the same period in 2019.
After the first case of Covid-19 was made public on March 13, many people feared that visiting hospitals will expose them to the disease; so the kept off.
But Kuria said with the creation of Covid-19 isolation centres by the Government, normal hospital visits resumed in May.
“All data documented was captured from hospital visits. It is at the hospitals where the public are also sensitised on the importance of personal hygiene in averting the virus this enhances the fight against water related diseases,” he said.
In the report, Nakuru County recorded 19,152 cases of typhoid from March to September 2019.
The cases declined to only 12,102 in the same period this year.
Dysentery in the county reduced from about 2,000 captured in 2019, to 1, 062 recorded this year.
Diarrhoea that has been common in slums of Kihoto, in Naishava, and other densely populated areas also reduced from 94,614 in 2019, to 61,522 this year.
Kuria noted that most people have also been avoiding gatherings that create a conducive environment for transmission of the diseases.
“Wearing of face masks and avoiding gatherings helps prevent circulation of viruses and bacteria that causes diseases. Common colds have also reduced with the implementation of public health measures,” he said.
According to data from the health ministry, cases of diarrhea have been high in slums where the population is dense. They lack good sanitation and enough water.
The data, however, shows that in May there was an outbreak of cholera in Marsabit and Turkana counties, with at least 550 cases documented. Marsabit had 268 cholera patients and 12 deaths, while Turkana recorded 22 cases and one death.
Kuria said though the disease was contained, a surveillance team was dispatched to the counties and even now it is working on a comprehensive report that will explain how the disease can be contained
Other cholera patients were also reported in Garissa (48) Murang’a (eight) and four in Wajir County.
“A team of experts are working with health officials and local communities in these areas to fully contain the pathogen,” Kuria said.
The official asked the public to continue adhering to personal hygiene measures. “Hand washing is a positive undertaking that helps eliminate diseases. Behavior change is key,” said Kuria.