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KENYA | It’s Business as Usual as Cholera Ravages Nairobi Slums

Joy Wanja Mutaya

Food business continued as usual in Kibera even as 37 people are admitted to Mbagathi Hospital over cholera complications, which have so far claimed seven lives with other parts of the country reporting more cases. A spot-check by The Standard on Saturday in Nairobi showed no adherence to public health warnings with sale of food in unhygienic conditions going on.

In roadside eating places erected on sewers, servings were being generously sold and children freely played near raw sewage, oblivious of the risk of a disease that threatens the lives of thousands of city residents. Lack of clean water proved a challenge as patrons visited their favourite eateries with few seeking a place to wash their hands before settling for their lunch meals. In Laini Saba and Gatwikira it was business as usual as food continued to be sold with little regard for hygiene.

Earlier on Wednesday, Thursday and yesterday, hotel owners by the roadside shut their food kiosks temporarily after public health officials ordered them closed down but later reopened with cases of the highly contagious disease, which is passed on by eating contaminated food or drinking dirty water, being reported in other parts of the country like Narok, Mombasa, Migori and Nakuru.

Patients at Mbagathi Hospital are drawn from Kayole, Kangemi, Eastleigh, Mukuru and Umoja Three areas but public health officers were slow to ensure prompt access to treatment, and health education for improved hygiene and safe food handling practices by the community.

Mbagathi medical superintendent Andrew Sule said the 37 patients had been isolated and treatment regime began which includes replacing lost fluids and use of antibiotics had begun. “We are currently giving them fluids, antibiotics and ensuring they adhere to hygienic practices like washing hands,” said Dr Sule adding 20 per cent of those admitted were children with the number of adult men and women being almost the same.

Early in the week, Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero said cases of cholera have been reported in Kibera, Kawangware and Mathare even as Public Health officials in Nairobi moved to assure the public that the situation had been contained a fortnight ago.

Kenya has suffered annual waves of cholera occurrence between 1974 and 1989. Early this week, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta called on county governments to improve sanitation and waste disposal to curb spread of the disease.� Mombasa, Migori, Narok have recorded cholera cases in the last one month. To test for cholera, doctors must take a stool sample and send it to a laboratory to look for the cholera bacterium.

Published: May 9th 2015. By Joy Wanja Mutaya
Copyright 2015 The Standard Group

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