The Kenyan Ministry of Health has launched its second national strategic plan for the control of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) at a special event in Nairobi on 15th June.
The strategy which runs from 2016 to 2020 provides outlines the approach that the Ministry of Health’s National NTD Unit will seek to adopt in its efforts to prevent and treat a group of diseases that affect over 50 percent of Kenya's population.
The document contains an analysis of the 14 NTDs that are endemic in Kenya and the health systems available to tackle them. The plan outlines the government’s aim of accelerating the reduction of the disease burden and overall poverty alleviation through the control, elimination and eradication of NTDs. It also lays out the operational framework proposed by the National NTD unit to achieve this.
During the launch event the devastating impact of NTDs was highlighted in a moving testimony by Mr Kadzeha Katana from Kilifi County. Mr Katana contracted lymphatic filariasis (commonly known as elephantiasis) through a mosquito bite when he was 15 years old. The parasitic infection resulted in a large debilitating swelling which inturn led to stigmatization by his community. Following treatment and surgery Mr Katana has been able to reclaim his life.
Lymphatic filariasis is believed to occur exclusively within some sub-Counties in Kilifi, Kwale, Lamu Malindi, Mombasa, Taita Taveta and Tana River Counties. Approximately 3.7 million people are estimated to be at risk and stigma remains a big challenge to enhancing access to treatment. The targeted lymphatic filariasis treatment as outlined in the national strategy is guided by the collated research data that is used to generate the open source prevalence maps available at www.thiswormyworld.org/maps <include map of LF in Kenya>.
Speaking at the launch, Dr Matendechero, Head of the National NTD Unit, recognised the role played by research projects which, by building the evidence base around the effective control and treatment of NTDs, are significantly contributing to the elimination and control of NTDs in Kenya.
In particular he acknowledged the work of the TUMIKIA Project which is investigating the effectiveness of combining school- and community-based deworming to controlling and ultimately eliminate intestinal worms in over 150 communities in Kwale, county.
Stella Kepha, Research Fellow for the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who are coordinating the TUMIKIA project said, “It is research projects like TUMIKIA which are providing the Kenyan NTD Unit with the data that it needs to strengthen its treatment delivery mechanisms.”
Click link for a research brief on the TUMIKIA project (pdf)
Click link for maps showing the distribution of worms in Kenya