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How city officers ‘ignored’ warning on cholera outbreak

More cases of cholera are being reported in hospitals in Nairobi County as it emerged that the city’s health department had been informed of loopholes that the disease may ride on but ignored them.

And as the county government on Sunday began a crackdown on eateries and water vendors operating without valid licences in the city, patients emailed or texted the Nation about their having been diagnosed with cholera.

Mr Stephen Manoa, an engineer, wrote that he fell sick after eating food at the three-day event at KICC, where Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich was taken ill.

Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko said the Ministry of Health reported to the county about contamination in Mathare and Kawangware and asked it to work with the Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company to contain it.


Instead, ministry officials were told to “keep off county duties”.

Kenyatta National Hospital and other health facilities have had to create isolation wards, which were filled up, with a patient at Mater Hospital being asked to go elsewhere because the “isolation ward is full”.

This came a day after County Health Executive Bernard Muia released a report showing 96 confirmed cases of cholera in the past two months, a figure that health workers, however, suspect to be modest.

On Sunday, Dr Muia said he had directed public health officers to crack down on illegal eateries and water bowsers.


The outbreak has caused a national outcry, especially from the medical fraternity, given the ease with which the cholera pathogen, which can annihilate an entire community in a matter of days, can be controlled.

Prof Sam Kariuki, the director of the Centre for Microbiology at the Kenya Medical Research Institute, said cholera thrives in poor sanitation and lack of water.

His team traced some of the most virulent strains of typhoid and cholera to Mukuru kwa Njenga slums.

With illegal tapping of water and improper sewer management, supply to even the affluent neighbourhoods has been contaminated.