That there is a cholera outbreak in the country is no longer in doubt. What is doubt though is the numbers of those affected and the preparedness of both the county and national governments to deal with it.
These are the cholera facts according to the government:
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Cabinet Secretary for health Cleophas Mailu says 4 people have already died of cholera in the country.
So far there 67 cholera cases at Kenyatta National Hospital. 12 other cases are admitted in other health facilities.
And then the elephant in the room, the CS says ‘’We don’t have national statistics’’.
Which is a clear indicator that the figures are definitely more than stated.
Yet it is not a surprise that Kenya finds itself in the current situation.
First, it was the denials from the government. In fact, the responses when there were reports of cholera cases were fluctuating between ‘food poisoning’ to ‘We are investigating’.
Currently this response stands at ‘swift action’ albeit belatedly.
Among those who are frustrated by the way the government has handled the cholera outbreak are actually Doctors.
They must know. After all, the attend to the patients and some of them have been treated for the same disease.
Some were attending a health conference at Weston hotel in May when they started complaining of severe diarrhea and vomiting. These are the major symptoms of the disease.
Weston hotel is associated with DP William Ruto.
The incessant calls for immediate action to stop the spread of the disease seemingly fell on deaf ears.
Government officials instead were feeding the public with contradictory remarks.
Dr Jackson Kioko who is the Director of Medical Services said ’24 rapid diagnostic tests have returned negative results for cholera’’
He went on to state that “The signs and symptoms do not meet the classical case definition of cholera.”
In the public domain, these statements were translated to mean that the government was covering up.
Doctors who attended that conference at the Weston Hotel however called his bluff posting on social media positive results for cholera.
As of 21st of May 2017, the Kenyan government was admitting that there were a ‘total of 146 cases of cholera including 4 deaths (Case Fatality Rate = 3%)’
The magnitude of the spread is still not very clear because data collection in most health facilities is erratic.
Fast forward, a month later. Two cabinet secretaries Henry Rotich and Adan Mohammed were hospitalized at Nairobi hospital with cholera-like symptoms.
They were among 70 other patients who were admitted at different health facilities with the same symptoms.
Majority of those affected were attending a trade forum at the KICC in Nairobi.
The two Cabinet Secretaries as well as some journalists who were also admitted, were attending that meeting.
It was becoming evident that Cholera could not be ignored. The facts were bare.
A statement days later confirmed these fears.
In days, hospital beds were filled to capacity and health officials including KPMDU representatives were having nothing of the empty rhetoric.
Now the national government is no longer taking chances. The Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko cancelled all medical certificates for food handlers on 17th.
He went ahead to ban hawking of food.
The ministry directed County Health Departments across the country to inspect all hotels, food eating places and carry out urgent medical examination to all food handlers within 21 days.
Concerns are now been raised as to the preparedness of both the county and national governments to deal with any outbreak of disease when the priority appears to lean more towards protecting image as opposed to protecting the lives of Kenyans.