Deadly cholera outbreak sweeps across Tana River, Garissa, Wajir, Mandera counties

Mandera County Referral Hospital

Mandera County Referral Hospital on January 27, 2023. A cholera treatment center has been set up here.    

Photo credit: Manase Otsialo | Nation Media Group

 Health officials in Tana River, Garissa, Wajir and Mandera counties are on high alert as cholera continues to spread across the region.
So far, more than 2,700 cases have been reported in the four counties with several deaths.
In Tana River, 675 cases have been recorded since November last year, leaving at least 17 people dead.
According to the Kenya Red Cross, the most affected areas are Madogo, Mororo and Bura.
“We have had at least 144 cases in Madogo and six deaths. Mororo has recorded 40 cases,” Mr Gerald Bembe, Kenya Red Cross coordinator said.
He said the agency will be spending Sh9.4 million in response which will include the purchase of drugs, training of the medical officers and public sensitisation programmes.

At least 640 cholera patients have been treated and discharged in Tana River.
Mr Joseph Lenkarie, Tana River County Commissioner called on residents to observe high standards of hygiene.

 “We are involving chiefs and their assistants in this fight as we urge everyone to observe high standards of hygiene in their homes,” he said.
Mr Lenkarie said the local administrators will be involved in public sensitisation programmes.  
In Garissa County, Health Executive Ahamednadhir Omar said the situation was worse.
Index cases were recorded on October 23, 2022, at Hagadera and Dagahaley refugee camps with each having one case.

Wards at the Cholera Treatment centre at Mandera Referral Hospital

Wards at the Cholera Treatment centre at Mandera Referral Hospital on May 27, 2016. The deaths of nine people and the infection of hundreds of others in a cholera outbreak have triggered panic in Wajir county, with authorities now appealing for urgent help from the national government to contain the disease.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

By Thursday, Garissa had a cumulative caseload of 1,889 with 11 deaths.
“The outbreak is localised in Dadaab, Fafi, Lagdera and Garissa Township sub-counties,” Mr Omar said.

Dadaab and Fafi sub-counties host refugee camps where most of the cases have been reported while Garissa Sub County is a transit town connecting Wajir and Mandera counties and also neighbouring Somalia.
He said men are disproportionately affected compared to women at 51 and 49 per cent respectively.
In Garissa, children below the age of 10 years are most affected accounting for 55 per cent.
A total of 738 children (39 per cent) under five years and 290 (15 per cent) between 5-9 years of total cases are infected in Garissa County.

At least 19 patients are still admitted to the hospital, 1,859 have since been treated and discharged in Garissa, while 11 deaths were recorded by Thursday.
Dagahaley and Hagadera refugee camps contributed 81 per cent of the total cases, while Ifo contributed 19 per cent.

Dadaab sub-county has the highest number of infections at 1099, Fafi has 661 cases, Lagdera has 85 cases and Garissa Township has 43 cases.
Garissa GK Prison has so far recorded one case of cholera according to the county department of health.
Mr Omar said several intervention measures have been put in place including targeted household disinfection, health education and distribution of detergents to the affected households.
“We have continued to carry out public awareness and we provided a hotline/toll-free line for cholera ambulance referral,” he said.
Mr Omar cited the challenges in fighting the diseases as inadequate resources and difficulty in contact tracing.
“We have challenges in processing and uploading data on cholera situations but we are doing our best to counter this,” Mr Omar said.

He said his office was strengthening county coordination to enhance the submission of reports and heighten surveillance.  

“We have to intensify screening at the points of entry, especially at Liboi in Dadaab Sub County and strengthen surveillance for cholera in the refugee camps and the host community of Dadaab,” he said.
In Wajir County, nine people have died and 125 others hospitalised since Tuesday.
Wajir South Sub County is the most affected with five new cases reported on Friday in the Biyamathow area.
A total of 12 people are being treated at Biyamathow cholera treatment centre while 56 others are at Siriba centre.
“Wajir County department of health in partnership with Kenya Red cross will be rolling out a three-month response activity in relation to a cholera outbreak in Wajir County,” Ms Habiba Ali Maalim, the county minister for health said.

Wajir Deputy Governor Ahmed Muhumed announced a plan to build two water kiosks in the most affected areas.
“We are also setting up two water kiosks for Siriba town, and I am impressed by the ongoing civic public health education about the disease," he said.
He appreciated and commended partners like MSF, Save the Children and Unicef for their efforts.
The Red Cross has since posted eight technical staff and five non-technical staff to support the Wajir County health team.
The first cholera case was reported at Biyamadoh in Wajir last December. The county is now experiencing a second wave.
Due to the high number of infections, the county government has erected temporary treatment facilities at Siriba.
In Mandera, the county health team is on high alert after 21 cases were reported.  

Read: Surveillance in top gear to contain cholera outbreak in Nyanza

Mandera County Health Executive Dr Mohamud Adam Mohamed said an index case was recorded on January 15.
 “So far, we have had 21 cases. 17 have been treated and discharged but we have four others who are responding well to treatment,” Dr Mohamed said.
All the cases are from Mandera town. A treatment centre has been set up at Mandera County Referral Hospital.
“We have heightened our surveillance and formed a cholera response taskforce,” he said.
According to the county executive, all water points are being treated to avert a crisis.
 “We are faced with a cute water shortage caused by the drought but the little we have is being chlorinated before use,” he said.
He said a public sensitisation programme has since been launched in all schools, places of worship, hotels and food kiosks in Mandera.

“I am appealing to stakeholders to come on board and help us curb the spread of cholera,” Dr Mohamed said.  


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