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WHO raises alarm over foodborne illnesses as Kenyan govt observes holiday to honour flood victims

By Grace Samuel

The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed concern about the potential increase in foodborne illnesses in Kenya, where severe flooding has displaced more than 378,000 people and led to the loss of over 260 lives in the past couple of weeks.

The flood crisis has affected 41 out of 47 counties, with most of the displaced people taking refuge in crowded camps located in schools and churches.

In a statement released by WHO’s office in Kenya, the organisation noted that “there is a likelihood for increased illnesses associated with contaminated food diseases,” citing concerns over congested camps and damage to sanitation infrastructure caused by the floods.

The world body also noted that Kenya is already grappling with a cholera outbreak, with 44 cases reported in Tana River County, a coastal region that has been heavily impacted by the floods.

Abdourahmane Diallo, WHO’s Representative in Kenya, said, “We must be agile and ready to respond, led by the government and along with the partners, to bring relief to hundreds and thousands of affected people.”

The WHO has advised those affected by the floods to prioritize food safety by thoroughly cooking food, storing it properly, and practicing enhanced personal hygiene.

The organization also pledged to continue supporting the health emergency response and to remain vigilant for disease outbreaks, which can rapidly spread if not promptly contained.

The floods have also impacted healthcare infrastructure, with at least 14 health facilities closed and a major water treatment plant contaminated, according to Kenya’s Ministry of Health.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has reported that approximately one million people have been displaced by floods in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Tanzania, with the numbers increasing as rainfall intensifies.

The situation is dire, and urgent action is required to mitigate the effects of the floods and prevent the spread of waterborne diseases.


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