Human and animal infectious disease outbreaks have devastating impacts on economies, societies and the public health system. In West Pokot County, the impact of disease outbreaks has called for preparedness initiatives for early detection and early response to prevent the occurrence of serious outbreaks that has devastating effects. Through Community Epidemic and Pandemic Preparedness Program supported by USAID and IFRC; One health approach has been used to strengthen prevention, detection and response to human, animal and zoonotic diseases in Pokot North Sub-County, West Pokot County.
In Pokot North Sub-County, 60 Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) and Animal Disease Reporters (ADRs) have been trained on Community Based Surveillance (CBS), where they can use simple Community Case Definitions to detect disease alerts and events. Since the start of the implementation of CBS in 2019, the CHVs and ADRs have been able to detect diseases at the community level and raise alarm to the authorities to investigate and control the diseases before they become Epidemics. Apart from indicator-based surveillance where the CHVs/ADRs detect specific disease cases like measles and Rabies, Event-Based surveillance has led to the detection of a wide range of diseases including animal diseases of economic importance like Peste des Petit Ruminants.
Starting May 2020, the CHVs/ ADRs were reporting cases of a Cluster of Unusual illnesses and deaths of sheep and Goats across Pokot North Sub-County. The County Veterinary Surveillance team were notified and carried out an investigation. 152 Samples were collected from sheep and goats in the 6 wards in the Sub County. The samples were analyzed at Veterinary Investigation Laboratory in Kapenguria, West Pokot County. Out of the 152 samples tested 13 tested positive for PPR. To respond to the outbreak, the County initiated mass Vaccination of Sheep and Goats against PPR in the Sub-County which started towards the end of July 2020. By the end of August
2020, vaccination had been done in 3 Wards, reaching 121,475 sheep and goats. By February 2021, vaccination had been done in the 6 wards in the sub-county reaching 201,475 Sheep and goats.
’There have been bigger strides that have been made within the CP3 project, one of these has been to detect diseases at the community level with the aid of Community Health Volunteers whose main mandate is to detect cases at the community level.’’ Said Mr. Wilson Tarus, The County Disease Surveillance Coordinator, West Pokot County.
‘‘Vaccination of Sheep and Goats was activated as a result of the alerts sent by Community Health Volunteers and Disease reporters. The surveillance team took samples for analysis and the results were positive for PPR, which prompted the free of charge vaccination exercise by the County Government,’’ said Monica Mbithi, who is in charge of Veterinary Surveillance in West Pokot County, during vaccination of Sheep and Goats.
The communities in Pokot North Sub-County are pastoralists and their livelihood almost entirely depend on livestock, especially sheep and Goats. Therefore, PPR cause mortality and production loss among sheep and goats placing an increasing burden on the livelihoods. Prevention, control and eventual eradication of PPR hinge on consistent and rigorous vaccinations. Through CBS the disease was detected early and initiated a fast investigation and eventually rapid response. The vaccinations done prevented further spread of the disease and therefore saving communities livelihoods.
We are very lucky and grateful for your support of this animal vaccination. Since we started this vaccination exercise, the cases have reduced’’ affirmed Peter Loshialo, a community member from Ng’aswa village, Pokot North Sub-County.
Kenya Red Cross with the support of IFRC and USAID has been ramping up community epidemic and pandemic preparedness (CP3) to strengthen communities’ resilience – including the Maasai – during and after the epidemics. Focusing on Bomet, Narok, Tharaka-Nithi and West Pokot, Kenya Red Cross is working with governments (Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries), communities, schools, volunteers, local responders and humanitarian partners to collectively prepare for and respond to epidemics.