KNA Baringo County has been advised to acquire testing kits from Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) to upscale the number of people being tested for Hepatitis B disease rampant in the area.
KEMRI official James Odera said that early diagnosis and treatment of the dreaded infectious disease would give the victims a chance to live a healthy life for long.
Speaking at Marigat town on Wednesday during World Hepatitis Day celebration, the KEMRI representative noted that Baringo County has high prevalence rate of hepatitis compared to other counties given that it is part of lowland regions termed prone to the disease.
He stated that for the past six years, the institute has been carrying out research and public sensitization in the county with a view to educating the people on causes, symptoms and prevention measures of the killer disease caused by contaminated food and transmitted through infected person or object.
In the celebration graced by deputy governor Jacob Chepkwony and attended by health workers led by CEC for Health Dr Richard Rotich, the official challenged local residents to go for screening and testing to enable them seek prompt treatment if found positive.
He said that KEMRI is focusing its attention in Baringo County which he noted was part of the North Rift counties that have high prevalence of Hepatitis B disease.
Odera added that the risk of transmission from mother to child ranged from 70-90 percent worldwide hence it was important to introduce maternal care in health facilities to protect unborn children from infection.
The KEMRI officer also called on political leaders to work together with health workers and the community in the fight against the disease which kills one person in every 30 seconds in the world if no action is taken.
Moi University Dean of Students in the School of Nursing and Midwifery Dinah Chelagat said their students partner with Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) in carrying out research in critical areas like screening and testing of Hepatitis B in the disease prone zones like along the Kerio Valley floor, Marigat and Mogotio.
Chepkwony who represented governor Stanley Kiptis urged residents in areas identified as high risk zones to go for screening and testing for them to get early treatment saying doing so would enhance full recovery with no permanent liver damage.
The deputy county boss stated that over 5, 000 residents have been vaccinated in the county since 2015 adding that the county government is committed to increasing the number.
“The biggest challenge is the cost of vaccines and that people are unaware that they can get tested and be treated,” said Chepkwony.
He said that the county government plans to equip Marigat sub county hospital with staff and equipment to provide quality health services in the area.
The county government, he added, has engaged the services of community health volunteers in conducting public education to ensure that residents in rural areas get vaccinated or screened early enough to prevent the disease.
Dr Richard Rotich challenged leaders and health workers like clinical officers, public health and nurses to take it upon themselves to educate people on the disease which could be treated if detected at an early stage.
“As leaders and healthcare workers, we have a great responsibility to ensure that residents are protected from the disease by providing them with the necessary information,” said Dr Rotich.
He emphasised that without proper medical care, Hepatitis causes liver diseases and cellular cancer which would eventually lead to death. However, early detection and treatment leads to complete recovery with no permanent liver damage, he noted.
The CEC called on residents to be on high alert on symptoms such as jaundice, intense itching in the skin, fatigue, eye yellowing, loss of appetite and vomiting, swollen stomach, mild fever and headache adding that full vaccination especially of infants would help in fighting the disease.
In the recent past, the viral disease has wreaked havoc among families in the drier Kerio Valley region with people resigning to fate.