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Lifesavers of Oloika

Community Health Volunteers with health workers from the Kenya Red Cross Society doing a water purification demonstration

February 2019: Oloika is a location in Magadi Ward, Kajiado County.  The area had been battling with a cholera outbreak since January 2019, a situation that prompted the Kenya Red Cross Society in partnership with UNICEF, and  funding from the Government of Japan to initiate various interventions aimed at averting its spread of cholera within the affected communities. The response was aimed at implementing cholera prevention and control interventions through case management at cholera treatment Centres/Units, contact tracing and hygiene and sanitation sensitization/promotion at the community level. 

Contact tracing is one way in which Oloika managed to contain the spread of cholera and it involved following  up with affected patients at home to ensure that measures are put in place to mitigate the likelihood of having someone from the same household contracting the disease. The cycle of transmission is thereby broken.

Working with Kajiado County Government health staff and Community, Red Cross Volunteers and staff also sensitized the community on prevention measures such as the use of safe, treated and adequate drinking water, proper sanitation and hygiene practices and emphasized on construction of pit latrines using available local resources and use . Water tracking was also a common feature, supplying water to affected communities

“The most encouraging thing is seeing the community change their behavior. Previously, patients used to come to health facilities for medical assistance  while in shock. This has since changed with the adoption of key care practices, such as seeking medical care early during the onset of illness,” says Dickson Serem, a nurse in Olioka Dispensary.

Anna Tingirio, 36, and married with six children is a resident of Oloika . She says, “We have been facing a water shortage due to persistent drought since December 2018.  This has forced us to use the contaminated water from Silanga (water pan) since all the rivers have dried up.”

Distribution exercise underway facilitated by the Kenya Red Cross Society with support form UNICEF and the Government of Japan

Previously Anna was averse to treating her water with Aqua Tabs and PUR given by Community Health Volunteers. “I did not do it because treated water is tasteless! I preferred taking it untreated. Not until that very day in the evening after taking supper with my family when I started vomiting. Within a few minutes my bowel motions were frequent and all soon I was having profuse rice water like diarrhoea.”

That entire night she did not sleep. “My husband rushed me to Oloika Dispensary using a boda boda where I was admitted for three days at a cholera treatment centre.  Meanwhile, the Kenya Red Cross Society team visited my household, disinfected the floors and surfaces.”

Annas family also received jerry cans, buckets, soap and Aqua Tabs. They were also sensitized on water the treatment process, proper hand washing at critical times, proper hygiene and disposal of fecal matter. From then, no member of her family has ever taken untreated water. “My husband has also completed construction a pit latrine, so we do not practice open defection as we used before,” says a proud Anna.

UNICEF with funding from the Government of Japan supported the Kenya Red Cross to respond to the cholera outbreak since January. Distribution exercises are part of integrated interventions the organization had put in place to ensure no further cholera cases emerge.

 

 
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