Ganzourgou Launches Malaria Awareness Campaign with Mosquito Net Distribution in Boudry

ZORGHOU — In a continued effort to combat malaria, the Zorgho health district, in partnership with the Sanbrado Mining Company (SOMISA), initiated an awareness campaign and distributed mosquito nets at the Boudry health and social promotion center on Friday, June 7, 2024. The event, emphasizing “Gender, equity, and human rights,” was overseen by the high commissioner of the province of Ganzourgou, Ms. Aminata Sorgho/Gouba.

According to Burkina Information Agency, malaria remains the leading cause of medical consultations, hospitalizations, and deaths within the local health facilities. The commune of Boudry recorded over 109,000 malaria cases in 2020, with nearly half of them affecting children under five. After a spike in cases in 2021, there has been a noticeable decline in the following years, with the latest figures marking a significant reduction to 81,008 cases in 2023, alongside a decrease in related deaths.

Ms. Sorgho/Gouba expressed gratitude towards SOMISA for their continuous support and highlighted the crucial role of community engagement and the correct use of treated mosquito nets in combating malaria. She called on the residents to cooperate fully with health workers and adhere to their recommendations to mitigate the impact of this disease effectively.

Assane Ouédraogo, SOMISA’s director of community relations, noted that the company’s commitment to local development and health initiatives has contributed to the decline in malaria cases since the mine became operational at the end of 2019. He affirmed the company’s ongoing support for such health campaigns.

Dr. Delphin Kaboré, the Chief Physician of the Zorgho health district, outlined the details of the awareness program, which will extend to all villages and health facilities in the commune. This initiative, funded by SOMISA, will provide a thousand mosquito nets and include educational sessions on malaria prevention. Dr. Kaboré reiterated his appreciation for SOMISA’s support.

Beneficiary Léontine Ouédraogo shared her enthusiasm for the initiative, stating, “From now on, we will sleep under mosquito nets to protect ourselves and our children against malaria.”

Kisumu to Launch Kenya’s First Specialist Sickle Cell Hospital

KISUMU — In a significant healthcare development, the county government of Kisumu has announced a collaboration with Indian investors to establish the first specialist sickle cell hospital in Kenya. This initiative, part of a public-private partnership (PPP), aims to enhance the treatment and management of sickle cell disease (SCD) and related haematological disorders.

According to Kenya News Agency, County Executive for Medical Services, Public Health, and Sanitation, the new facility will be set up at Victoria Hospital in Milimani. It will feature advanced diagnostic and treatment services for sickle cell disease and haemophilia, as well as conduct crucial research into these conditions. “This move is in response to the significant challenge posed by SCD, particularly in regions around Lake Victoria and the coastal areas of Kenya,” said Dr. Ganda.

The hospital plans to offer services such as bone marrow transplants and will become a center for haematological disorders, responding to the high incidence of these conditions in the region. Statistics indicate that in Kenya, approximately 14,000 children are born with SCD annually, with a high mortality rate where 50-90% die before reaching five years old. In Kisumu County alone, out of 20,000 children born each year, 500 succumb to the disease within their first five years.

Dr. Ganda also highlighted ongoing efforts to combat SCD at a local level, including the establishment of a sickle cell clinic and the rollout of infant screening at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH). “We have installed an ultra-modern machine for testing Sickle Cell at JOOTRH, which is the first one of its kind in the country,” he added during the Scientific Conference on Sickle Cell Disease and Haemophilia held in Kisumu.

The county’s comprehensive approach also includes educational efforts to inform the community about the hereditary nature of SCD and the importance of early screening. This is part of a broader strategy to develop a full sickle cell program encompassing screening, diagnosis, treatment, and bone marrow transplant services, further detailed by Dr. Ganda.

Mariba Village Shifts from Firewood to Cooking Gas, Boosting Environmental and Health Benefits

GUCHA, KISII COUNTY — Mariba village in Gucha sub-county is undergoing a significant transformation as residents increasingly adopt cooking gas in place of traditional firewood, a change that is enhancing their quality of life and benefiting the environment.

According to Kenya News Agency, the Sub-County Forest Officer, the switch to gas has led to a substantial decrease in tree cutting for fuel, aiding local afforestation efforts. “Tree cutting has significantly decreased,” Osoro noted, adding that the former widespread practice of charcoal production is also on the decline. He attributed these environmental gains to the widespread adoption of cooking gas and the success of civil education campaigns that have informed residents about the benefits of cleaner energy sources.

John Nyangaresi, a village elder, described the personal and community benefits of this transition. He emphasized the convenience and health advantages of using cooking gas over firewood, which often produced harmful smoke that affected the respiratory health of the community’s women and children. “Using cooking gas is more comfortable compared to firewood,” Nyangaresi explained. He highlighted the social change as well, noting that the time once spent gathering firewood is now used for more productive activities, aiding community development.

Annette Sarange, a local gas vendor, corroborated these observations. She reported a significant increase in gas cylinder sales over the past two years, reflecting the community’s growing preference for this safer and more efficient energy source. “I’ve sold more gas cylinders in the past two years than in the entire previous decade since I started this business in 2014,” Sarange said. She also noted the community’s commitment to safety, stating, “I am happy because locals have learned how to use the gas safely. I have never heard of any case of explosions.”

Despite these improvements, Nyangaresi acknowledged that the cost of cooking gas remains a barrier for some residents, preventing a complete transition away from firewood. He expressed the community’s hope that the government will intervene to manage rising costs and support wider access to cooking gas.

Health Cabinet Secretary Urges Marsabit Leaders to Promote Social Health Insurance Registration

MARSABIT – Cabinet Secretary for Health, Susan Nakhumicha, has emphasized the importance of widespread social health insurance registration in Marsabit County, calling on both elected and administrative leaders to enhance local campaigns. This push aims to transition residents from the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) to the new Social Health Insurance Fund (SHIF) by next month.

According to Kenya News Agency, who spoke during the World Blood Donor’s Day celebrations in Marsabit, the pilot phase of the registration process has revealed several significant challenges that must be addressed urgently. The Cabinet Secretary highlighted issues such as the lack of identity cards and marriage certificates, poor internet connectivity, and the absence of mobile phones among villagers as barriers to registration.

Nakhumicha visited Dakabaricha village to assess the ongoing pilot project and stressed the need for the National Government Administrative Officers (NGAO) to collaborate closely with local leaders, including Governor Mohamud Ali, to educate residents about the benefits of the SHIF. She urged NGAO to expedite the issuance of identity cards to facilitate smoother registration processes.

Additionally, the Cabinet Secretary addressed connectivity issues, disclosing partnerships with providers like Safaricom to enhance internet services in remote areas. She also mentioned deploying community health promoters to assist those without mobile phones in registering for the SHIF.

To overcome the hurdle of unregistered traditional marriages, Nakhumicha advised local chiefs to provide written confirmations of marital status, enabling more residents to enroll in the health program. On a broader scale, she encouraged all Kenyans to participate in blood donation, underscoring its critical role in medical emergencies and healthcare delivery.

The celebration also saw significant participation from national figures, including the first daughter Charlene Ruto, Acting Director General for Health Dr. Patrick Amoth, and Social Health Authority Chairman Dr. Timothy Olweny, all of whom supported the event’s goals.

Governor Ali reaffirmed his commitment to upgrading healthcare services and facilities in Marsabit, reflecting on the region’s ongoing efforts towards modernization and improved public health. He also highlighted a notable achievement from the event—a collection of over 350 pints of blood over three days, demonstrating the community’s active involvement in lifesaving initiatives.

In addition to these healthcare initiatives, Nakhumicha announced the planned introduction of a nursing course at the Marsabit Kenya Medical Training campus starting in September, marking another significant advancement in local medical education and training.

Kericho Tea Farmers Urge KTDA to Implement Health Insurance Scheme

KERICHO – Tea farmers in Kericho County are advocating for the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) to establish a health insurance scheme to help mitigate the high medical costs they face. This appeal comes amid concerns over the economic burdens that health expenses impose on these farmers, despite their significant contributions to the nation’s economy through tea production.

According to Kenya News Agency, a local farmer from Chemoiben in Bureti Sub-County, the need for a dedicated health insurance cover is critical for over 600,000 small-scale tea farmers across the country. Langat expressed this during an interview with KNA in Litein, where he highlighted the heavy reliance of farmers on their tea earnings to support their families’ educational and healthcare needs. “When health issues come up, they have little left to pay for medication and the purchase of drugs,” Langat stated, emphasizing the strain on financial resources that lack of insurance causes.

The proposed insurance scheme, as suggested by Langat, would involve a minimal deduction—possibly as little as one shilling—from each kilo of tea produced. This fund would contribute towards establishing and maintaining health insurance and healthcare facilities for farmers. He further recommended that each tea factory or zone should build its own hospital or health facility to directly support its shareholders, complementing the efforts of county and national governments in healthcare provision.

Langat’s proposal echoes broader initiatives within the agricultural sector, where multinational tea estates in Kericho have already begun to establish health cottages as part of their corporate social responsibility. These facilities provide basic health services and treatments to workers and their communities, setting a precedent for what could be expanded upon with KTDA’s involvement.

The push for health insurance reflects a growing recognition among tea farmers of the need for more comprehensive support systems that ensure their health and economic stability, contributing to the overall sustainability of the tea industry in Kenya.