Dr. Bernard Muia, Nairobi County Executive member for Health
There is a quote I saw on Goodreads once, it said, ‘Don’t keep sweeping your troubles under the rug, for one day you’ll trip over them. It certainly seems that Nairobi county government’s efforts to ignore the early signs of a looming outbreak have come back to bite them in their behinds, quite literally. According to a press release on the ministry of health website, the country has been having a cholera outbreak since May, with the first two cases being reported in Mathare. As of May 21st, a total of 146 cases had been reported all over the country. Nairobi County reported 29 out of the 146.
The infamous Karen wedding was probably the first headline grabbing case where five people were admitted at Nairobi Hospital with symptoms of cholera. The cases were later confirmed by Nairobi County Executive member for Health, Bernard Muia, as cases of cholera. Health centres were put on high alert and the caterer who served guests at the wedding, Ms.Rose Araka, wanted by the police for putting the guests at risk. The second public case of an outbreak happened at Weston hotel where ten people were hospitalised with symptoms that were later positively confirmed as cholera. Weston hotel, which is described as top 4 star hotel on their website, was hosting the Kenya International Scientific Lung Health Conference. Over 400 were in attendance at the conference hosted by the ministry of health. The irony doesn’t stop there, instead of the fervor with which the county pursued Ms. Rose Araka, the Weston hotel outbreak was dismissed as political sabotage against deputy president William Ruto, the owner of the hotel. The Ministry of health, also downplayed the matter, saying that those hospitalised at Nairobi hospital were suffering from gastroenteritis and not cholera. The exact number of people who were infected from the Weston hotel incident was never clear and its suspected that as many as 47 people contracted the disease.
The latest case has seen 33 hospitalised, including Treasury CS, Henry Rotich, Trade CS, Adan Mohammed and his principal secretary, Chris Kiptoo. The three had been attending a trade expo at KICC. The county government responded by banning all open air cooking stalls, food hawkers, and promising to release new health guidelines for caterers across the city. As of July 14th, Nairobi had 96 confirmed cases and 3 reported cholera deaths, according to a statement by Nairobi county health services.
The county government seems to be making efforts to curb the outbreak, but impunity runs deep in this country, and in truth, those efforts are nothing but smoke and mirrors. Out of the 96 reported and confirmed cases, majority have been from the Weston hotel and Trade expo at KICC incidents, it hardly makes any sense that Weston hotel is still open and serving food to customers. Or isn’t there no longer a risk of infecting other people as it was with Ms, Rose Araka? While its true that cholera is more in areas that are overcrowded and have poor sewerage facilities, the cause of the disease is contaminated food and water. Contaminated food and which had been consumed at Weston Hotel and KICC, not from open air stalls or food hawkers in Nairobi.