Kenya declared Guinea Worm free country

GuineaWorm2J lores The last country to be declared free of Guinea Worm disease was Ghana in 2015. (Image source: CDC/Wikimedia commons)The eradication of guinea worm (GW) makes it the second human disease to be wiped off Kenya's map after smallpox

WHO director general Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus has signed the recommendations and declaration on 20 February 2018, making Kenya the 199th country to be certified guinea worm free.

The last country to be declared free of GW disease was Ghana in 2015. Since its establishment in 1995 until April 2016, the the International Commission for the Certification of Dracunculiasis Eradication (ICCDE) has met 11 times and certified 198 countries, territories and areas (belonging to 186 Member States) as free of dracunculiasis.

The declaration follows comprehensive evaluation done in December by the International Certification Team (ICT) which visited 21 counties including the three former endemic ones, namely, Turkana, Uasin Gishu and West Pokot. The team visited 88 health facilities, 159 communities and interviewed 1691 individuals. The team assessed the adequacy of the surveillance system and reviewed records of any investigations for rumoured cases and subsequent actions taken and evaluated knowledge of the disease countrywide and in former endemic counties.

Kenyans may feel safer from GW knowing that this disease has been eradicated from the country although health teams have to sustain this status through close surveillance, especially along the borders.

Surveillance will sustain the alertness of the health system and detect any importation of GW from neighbouring countries that are still endemic, such as Ethiopia which is reporting a Guinea Worm outbreak and South Sudan which is still endemic. A country is declared free of GW after it has interrupted transmission and reported zero indigenous cases over a period of three calendar years after the last reported case. The country should also have demonstrated a robust surveillance system for that period of time and improved awareness of the disease.

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