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Health promoters get trained to fight Rift Valley Disease in Isiolo County

 Training session during training of community health promoters and community disease reporters in Isiolo. [Bruno Mutunga, Standard]

An emergency training programme of community health promoters has been rolled out to carry out surveillance, sensitise community members on preventive measures and promptly report any suspected cases of Rift Valley fever. 

The training programme courtesy of VSF Suisse, Amref Health Africa and the County Government will see at least all the 760 Community health promoters trained on the crucial information to help contain the spread of the zoonotic disease which is also vector-borne. 

According to the Kenya Area Programme Manager for VSF Suisse Dr Douglas Machuchu, some samples which were collected from animals in parts of Isiolo were found to be having the virus, while the neighbouring counties have reported human infections. 

"We are working to contain the disease, by partnering with the County Government through the One-Health approach to train community health promoters to create awareness," he said. 

Dr Machuchu says they want to ensure that once the CHPs notice signs of the disease in livestock especially abortion of a foetus/stillbirth, they need to swiftly report the matter so that appropriate action is taken.

"We need to create awareness so that those who interact closely with the animals can take measures which protect themselves such as the use of protective gear like gloves when handling the foetus and fluids/material that accompanies it," Machuchu said. 

Rift Valley Fever is a zoonotic disease which affects animals and spreads to humans through mosquitoes that carry the virus or through contact with animal products such as milk and blood. 

After the training, the frontline workers will be released to their wards where they will be required to follow the work plan a work plan that includes going to watering points where community members come with their livestock to educate them about the disease. 

Isiolo County Director of Veterinary Services Dr Joseph Muriira said the county experienced El-Nino rains which resulted in flooding in some areas such as Sericho, Cherab and Garbatulla and when this happens, Rift Valley Fever is always very likely to strike. "The disease occurred in 2020 and with the onset of March-April rains, this is why we need to train the community health promoters from every ward to enlighten people about the disease at the grassroots level as part of mitigation measures," he said. 

Selina Aspital, a Community Health Promoter asked frontline workers to collaborate and relay the information to people in different settings such as mosques, churches and even in women's social groups so that the Rift Valley Disease is effectively contained. 

Livestock and Fisheries Chief Officer Isaiah Epuri said they vaccinated more than 500,000 heads of livestock between August last year and February this year. 

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