By Mary Hearty

The Kenyan government has allocated a total of Kshs.2.4 billion for the fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in the budget for the next financial year, which will begin from June, 2022.

Speaking during a three-day Global Summit on NTDs organized by the END Fund, Susan Mochache, Principal Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Health said that of this money, the government has dedicated Kshs.800 million for elimination of Lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as elephantiasis; Kshs.4 million for mass treatment of intestinal worms and bilharzia; Kshs.1.2 million for surgery of some of the chronic cases; and Kshs.2 million for vector control.

She noted that the county governments are also being engaged to ensure that they prioritize NTDs when allocating resources.

At the moment, the Ministry of Health has already started scaling up the mapping of the actual burden of diseases such as bilharzia as well as mapping of intestinal worms so as to allocate sufficient resources for the treatment of these diseases.

Susan Mochache, PS Ministry of Health during a press briefing

Dr Sultani Matendechero, Head of Kenya Public Health Institute, among the delegates who attended the event urged countries in Africa to start being self-reliant in order to ensure a sustainable elimination of NTDs, noting that the COVID-19 pandemic brought about disruption of programs including external funding programs, as resources had to be channeled to the pandemic’s response.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic began, we had just started a research that focused on a comprehensive approach to sustainable elimination of Schistosomias, funded by the British government. However, this was disrupted by the pandemic,” he explained. “So we have to think of how we are going to start replacing external funding with progressive funding in order to have a sustainable program. This will prevent us from going back to zero.”

Some of the sustainable strategies Dr Matendechero suggested besides government funding, include sourcing for funding from philanthropists and local organizations through corporate social responsibility.

Dr. Sultani Matendechero

Some of the progressive efforts that have been made by Kenya in the elimination of the NTDs are: becoming the first country in Africa to launch a five-year NTD national plan for 2011 to 2015; and was further revised in 2016 and 2020. At the moment, a new five-year strategy is under development. Also Kenya was certified Guinea worm free.

Kenya made strides in coming up with interventions to tackle different forms of NTDs including soil helminths, Trypanosomiasis, trachoma, elephantiasis and bilharzia among others.

READ: Kenya Making Progress in the Fight against NTDs