By Mureen Odiwuor, Neglected tropical diseases are posing a big threat to the health sector, experts have warned.
During a health symposium held in Kisumu by Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) and Centre for Diseases Control (CDC), experts said the burden caused by the diseases was being overlooked and would adversely affect the public health sector unless urgent solution is sought.
Dr Pauline Mwinzi, a principal researcher at Kemri cited Centre for Diseases Control (CDC)and intestinal worms as some of the major important neglected tropical diseases.
She said control of the diseases was becoming difficult in rural areas because of poverty and poor sanitation, adding pupils in rural schools were more vulnerable.
Mwinzi said bilharzia remains a major public health problem, especially in Western Kenya, where it is the leading tropical disease.
She called for public awareness campaigns to enlighten wananchi on the effects of the diseases.
She further attributed the ailments to poor living conditions of residents despite the fact that some of the diseases are treatable.
“People are only aware of HIV and Aids, malaria and other common diseases, while these tropical diseases have been neglected,” she added.
She further revealed that Kemri conducted several researches to address, control and eliminate cases of bilharzia that were common along the shores of Lake Victoria.
National Co-ordinator for Vector-Borne and Neglected Tropical Diseases in the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation, Dr Dunstan Akumbi, said they have embarked on massive deworming and treatment of bilharzia through Mass Drugs Administration project.
The initiative is aimed at curbing the spread of the disease in rural villages and urban slums.
Through MDA, they have visited numerous schools in the last one year.
“With increased global commitment for bilharzia control, MDA programmes are being implemented in several settings especially schools,” Akumbi said.
By Nicholas Anyuor and