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Health Ministry launch drive to administer free drugs in five counties

 Machakos Deputy Governor Francis Mwangangi attends to a child during the launch of mass drugs administration exercise at Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos town on June 7, 2023. [John Muia, Standard]

Mass drug administration drive geared towards eliminating neglected tropical diseases has started.

Some 5.6 million residents in five counties will now benefit from free 2.3 million tablets.

Community health promoters (CHPs) are visiting primary schools and other learning institutions to administer the drugs in Machakos, Kitui, Makueni, Meru and Tharaka Nithi.

The exercise was launched by World Health Organisation (WHO) and Ministry of Health and is aimed at administering drugs against Bilharzia and soil transmitted worms.

WHO country representative in Kenya, Abdourahmane Diallo revealed the global health body had committed to finance donations for drugs for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) to the tune of Sh200 million.

In a speech speech read on his behalf by Dr Mona Almudhwahi, during the launch of the drugs administration in Machakos, Diallo noted that about 40 per cent of the global burden of neglected tropical diseases occurs in the African region.

Diallo said Africa is the region which is the most affected by schistosomiasis (Bilharzia), accounting for 91.4 percent of the total number of people requiring treatment globally.

Health Director General, Patrick Amoth said that Bilharzia and Worms posed a significant health concern globally and most parts of the country more so Eastern region.

"To ensure control of and elimination of bilharzia and intestinal worms, the Government has laid out comprehensive strategic approach to combating Neglected Tropical Diseases in the country," he said in a speech read by Dr Daniel Langat

Dr Langat said part of the strategy was to upscale preventive chemotherapy treatment in areas where bilharzia and intestinal worms are of public health importance.

He said community mass drug administration had been proven to be the fastest means of lowering the burden of biharzia and intestinal worms in areas where transmission of the infections have been established.

The ministry of Health, he said, had so far provided free treatment to about 10 million people in Western, Coastal and Lake Regions where the diseases have been detected.

Our target is to reach about six million people; about five million and one million for intestinal worms and bilharzia respectively.

The treatment will be administered by 12,000 community health volunteers.

Machakos deputy governor, Francis Mwangangi said the county government is keen on partnering with both the National Government and other development partners in eradicating Neglected Tropical Diseases.

"We have complied with President William Ruto's directive to take care of 50 per cent of the stipends for our Community Health Promoters while the national government commits to foot the other 50 per cent," Mwangangi said.

In Kitu, the Chief Officer for Public Health and Sanitation Lynn Kitwan said drugs against common worms will be administered in all the 40 wards across the county within the next four days.

According to the chief officer, Kitui County has already received drugs valued at Sh1.3 million from WHO.

Kitwan noted that 2,470 community health promoters had been trained and dispersed across the county to make the exercise a success.

"We have equipped them with knowledge and skills on the right dosage and what to do in case of drug reaction," Kitwan said, adding that after the drugs administration, the health promoters will continue to sensitise the residents on Wash activities that revolve around personal hygiene and sanitation.

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