Kenya is free from Guinea Worm - International Certification Team

The last known local case was diagnosed in Kenya in 1994.

This follows findings from experts from the International Certification Team on guinea worm disease (ICT) who have been in the country for three weeks assessing the country's status on the parasitic infection finding no evidence of Guinea Worm Disease in Kenya.

The last known local case was diagnosed in Kenya in 1994 but the country could not be granted 'guinea worm free' status since it was yet to meet certain required standards.

"After our assessment these past three weeks, we can now comfortably declare that Kenya is free from the disease as we found no evidence of active transmission in the country," said Dr Ashok Kumar, a member of the ICT team said Monday during the launch of its findings from the assessment.

Their final report will now be presented for review to the Geneva-based International Commission for the Certification of Dracunculiasis Eradication (ICCDE) before Kenya is officially certified as free of the disease in February next year.

"The declaration made today is a major achievement and good news for us. So we are hopeful that we will finally get the eradication certificate next year." Dr Jackson Kioko, the director of medical services at the Ministry of Health (MOH) said while expressing optimism.

World Health Organisation (WHO) has the sole mandate to certify countries as Guinea-worm free based on recommendations of the ICCDE.

Guinea-worm is one of the 17 neglected tropical diseases listed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

To qualify for the certification, a country needs to have reported no guinea worm disease cases for at least three years in the pre-certification phase that Kenya has been in since 1994.

Countries also need to have created sufficient awareness about the disease among its citizens whilst establishing a functional surveillance system that can detect any imported cases.

Kenyan Ministry of Health did just that, in 2015 it launched a rigorous campaign offering up to Sh100,000 cash reward ($1000) to any person who reports any confirmed case of Guinea Worm, but upto now no one claimed it.

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