Stakeholders in Health, Education and Gender in Kajiado County have been urged to apply multiple strategies in combating snakebites in the region.
Speaking when he opened the Kajiado multistakeholder forum, Kajiado County Director of Public Health and Sanitation Samson Saigilu said there was need to strengthen surveillance and reporting on matters snakebites. “Once we put a lot of energy in the neglected tropical disease, we will ensure that our community is well sensitized on matters sensitization,” Saigilu said.
According to Access to Medicines Platform Chief Executive Officer Dorothy Okemo, there is urgent need to hold frequent community engagement meetings in order to bridge the gap between community and health system responses. “There is also need to disseminate both new and existing educational tools at these meetings to increase community awareness, health-seeking behaviours and first aid,” she added.
Access To Medicines Platform has already availed a first aid tool kit in various languages to enable locals identify quick measures to deal with snakebites. “No parent should be paying out of pocket for such crucial services like treatment for snakebites. We have disseminated first aid material to the community in a language they can understand,” Dorothy noted.
According to HAI Snakebite Snakebite Research (2019/2020), a study done by Health Action International, snakebites had both social and economic impact on the victims, with 53 percent of those interviewed unable to pay the hospital bills for the treatment. A further 39 percent of those surveyed lost income due to the snakebite while 59 percent were unable to do the same job as before the snakebite.
Dorothy called on the county governments and other relevant authorities to prioritize the prevention and treatment of snakebites in the county in order to address the need of the 22 percent of locals who go into debts as a result of the snakebites.
Targeted budget allocation and ownership of snakebites issue were touted as strong pillars in seeing the neglected tropical disease become a priority. Saigilu reiterated that increased coverage of snakebites as well as documentation of positive stories and health innovations will be a key step in achieving this milestone.
In a bid to address health challenges from the community level, Kajiado County Government has allocated a Sh3,000 budget to the more than 300 Community Health Volunteers in the county. Out of this, Sh500 will go into their payments for National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF). The county has also prioritizes the Community Health Bill that seeks to build capacity for the CHVs in a bid to empower them take information to the household level.