Launch of the Breaking Transmission Strategy
The county government of Meru played host to the launch of the Breaking Transmission Strategy, a five year plan that targets to control and eliminate the four Preventive Chemotherapy Neglected Tropical Diseases (PC-NTDs) namely: Soil Transmitted Helminthiasis, Schistosomiasis, Lymphatic Filariasis and Trachoma.
The event that took place on 14th February 2019 at Kariene Primary School in Meru was graced by the Cabinet Secretary for Health Sicily Kariuki, Meru County Governor Hon. Kiraitu Murungi, senior representatives from Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), World Health Organization (WHO), Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) among other line partners.
The partnership between the Government of Kenya and non-state actors targets to achieve strong coordination at global, national, county and community levels.
“Common neglected tropical diseases trap communities in a cycle of malnutrition, anaemia, poor learning, low productivity, poor maternity and child health outcomes, and the deepening of the type of neglected tropical diseases complications and disabilities such as blindness, swelling of limbs, and organ failure and even brain damage. For this reason, in May 2013 the world came together and resolved to intensify measures against Neglected Tropical Diseases. Untreated conditions continue to be observed because they are hidden in shame and isolation. People affected by these conditions do not have a chance to live a normal life unless they receive lifesaving or disability preventive measures and procedures,” Sicily Kariuki, Cabinet Secretary, Health.
The strategy, which is aligned to the WHO-NTD guidelines of 2012 has six clear objectives that include: increase of mass drug administration coverage in all the endemic sub counties; expansion of NTD-WASH interventions; mainstreaming behavior change communication interventions; intensify advocacy, coordination and partnerships in NTD control and elimination; strengthen systems for monitoring, evaluation, surveillance and research; as well as plan for results, resource mobilization and financial sustainability of the program.
“This is the highest health forum held in this region ever. We thank you for choosing Meru county as the pioneer county for the launch of the neglected tropical and surgical diseases. Today is another milestone for us, we are here to launch a very important programme for neglected surgical conditions which have been for a long time a burden not only to patients but also to the entire community of Meru. They have been a source of pain, ridicule and embarrassment to those who are suffering from those conditions,” said Governor Kiraitu Murungi.
In the long term, the strategy strives to fully implement PC-NTD interventions as well as sustain the gains beyond the five years implementation period. This will be achieved through synergy in order to yield a cost-effective approach during implementation.
“For us, this is a celebration to be here. We are excited that the government of Kenya through the ministry of health has really committed to breaking transmission and we believe this is really one of the Universal Health Coverage agenda. It is an exciting day for the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and we are here to continue working with the ministry and all stakeholders to ensure we finally get to our goal,” lamented Lilies Njanga, CIFF Kenya Office.
Ultimately, the implementers hope to stop Mass Drug Administration (MDA) as a result of the reduction in prevalence and intensity by 2023. A key channel will be community based distribution that will include house-to-house distribution and fixed point distribution (schools, training institutions, health facilities, market places, beach halls etc) for persons who may not be in their homesteads during the MDA.
“I appreciate the leadership role the Ministry of Health has taken in addressing the issue of neglected tropical diseases in addition to the neglected surgeries. As the Kenya Red Cross Society, we are glad to be part of this journey of eliminating some of the very long term diseases that have disturbed us. We fully commit toward this noble course and echo our support to the national and county governments in the implementation of this strategy and ensure we achieve the set results,” said Sylvia Khamati, Head of Health, Nutrition and Social Services, KRCS.
The event was further used to unveil the Committee of Experts tasked to spearhead the implementation of the Breaking Transmission Strategy (BTS) led by the Chair Prof. Benson Estambale.