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Covid-19 campaign boost fight against hygiene-related illnesses

By Stanley Ongwae | July 26th 2020

A walk-through Ndege Oriedo Trading Centre in Rongo is impressive. Jerry cans of water and soap placed outside every shop. 

Everyone visiting the shops has to wash their hands with soap and water or sanitise.

The hand washing culture is part of the hygiene measures put in place by the Ministry of Health to help contain spread of coronavirus.

In Migori the measures are yielding positive effects in many ways. They have also helped to reduce the burden of hygiene and sanitation diseases like cholera, dysentery, intestinal worms and typhoid fever, which are common in the region.

Migori and Homa Bay counties have high prevalence of sanitation diseases, according to Ministry of Health reports. 

But since the health measures were put in place, data from the county health services information systems indicates that cases of dysentery, diarrhoea, intestinal worms and typhoid fever, have dropped.

Between January and March this year; the period before the start of Covid-19 campaigns, the county recorded 14,500 cases of diarrhoea compared to the reduced figure of 5,500 in April and May after the Covid-19 campaigns were intensified.

The county also recorded 4,000 cases of typhoid fever between January and March while in April and May, only 2,200 were recorded. Dysentery cases were 950 between from January to March and 400 in April and May.

County Public Health Officer Ken Ombogo said prohibition of communal feasts has also played a role in reduction of hygiene related diseases.

“The culture of many people gathering in funerals and feasts where meals are taken is also among other key contributors to the disease burden. But now things are done differently at funerals to observe social distance,” Ombogo said.

Hellen Atieno, a vegetable vender at Ndege Oriedo market centre, said they have seen positive change.

“We have all been forced to embrace hygiene and sanitation measure and we are doing our part well,” she said.

“Nowadays, I have to ensure everyone visiting my kiosk has cleaned their hands. I also clean mine after handling cash from clients,” said Dorcas Lukasi, a food vendor at Mabera in Kuria West.

Kuria West subcounty is the leading in the prevalence of sanitation diseases in the county followed by Kuria East, Nyatike, Uriri, Suna East, Suna West, Awendo and Rongo.

In Rongo, Caleb Juma, a butcher said he washes his hands after serving each customer.

“Initially, we never used to wash our hands after serving customers or handling money. But nowadays, we are more keen on hygiene,” Juma said.

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