By Mike Mwaniki
The Kenya Meteorological Department warned Kenyans to brace themselves for outbreaks of diseases such as malaria, Rift Valley and dengue fevers and influenza amongst others during the October to December “short-rains” season. Apart from the anticipated disease outbreaks, cases of flooding, lightning, and mudslides/landslides are likely to occur in some parts of the country.
Speaking to Health Business Magazine, Biometeorologist, Dr David Gikungu said most parts of the country are expected to experience enhanced rainfall that will be also be well distributed “both in time and space”. This, Dr Gikungu noted, will be more so over North- eastern, North-western, Western, Central and the Coastal regions of Kenya.
“The anticipated increased rainfall is likely to result in flooding in most parts of the country thereby increasing incidences of malaria and other vector-borne diseases. “There is also a possibility of Rift Valley Fever outbreak emerging in Siaya in Nyanza, Central (Murang’a, Makuyu) and parts of Tana River for a disease which is usually endemic in the Rift Valley and North Eastern regions.
“Other risks include outbreaks of dengue fever cases in areas experiencing high temperatures, leishmaniasis (which is spread by sand fly) and influenza,” Dr Gikungu warned. In a bid to mitigate against the outbreaks, the official urged the Ministry of Health to take the necessary measures to treat those who will be affected– while also stocking drugs in health facilities and providing insecticide treated bed nets (ITNs) before the onset of the rains.
“The department of veterinary services should also ensure cattle and other animals in areas where there be risks of outbreak of Rift Valley Fever are vaccinated before the rains begin,” Dr Gikungu added. The biometeorologist noted the need to protect children against sporadic outbreaks of cholera by improving sanitation in schools and other places.”
Dr Gikungu urged the relevant authorities to ensure they kept in touch with the Meteorological department for regular updates during the October to December “short rains” season. In the October to December forecast the Meteorological department identified the following areas as likely to receive above-normal (highly enhanced) rainfall: the Western Counties: (Busia, Vihiga, Kakamega, Bungoma); Nyanza Counties (Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Nyamira, Migori, Kisii); Counties in Eastern Region (Meru, Embu, Tharaka); Counties in Central Kenya (Kirinyaga, Nyeri, Murang’a, Kiambu, Nyandarua); Nairobi County; Counties in Central and North Rift Valley (Kericho, West Pokot, Nandi, Bomet, Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet, Uasin Gishu, Laikipia, Trans Nzoia, Nakuru); Counties in North Western (Turkana, Samburu); North Eastern Counties (Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Isiolo, Marsabit); Counties in the Coastal Region (Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale, Lamu and parts of Tana River); and Machakos County in southeastern Kenya.
The areas likely to receive near-normal to above-normal (enhanced) rainfall include: Counties in southern Rift Valley (Narok, Kajiado); and Most Counties in Southeastern Kenya (Taita-Taveta, Makueni, Kitui and most of Tana River). The National Disaster Operations Centre is advised to be on standby in order to ensure mitigation of any negative impacts that may arise.