Sickle Cell Cases Surge In Western, Nyanza Regions

A pediatrician at the Bungoma County referral hospital Dr. Dickens Lubanga has attributed the rising number of sickle cell patients in the region to myths and lack of awareness.
Lubanga has said that sickle cell anemia is a frequently diagnosed disease among children and is often viewed as a curse by many people in different communities.
He regretted that the disease has widely spread mostly in Western and Nyanza regions, citing Bungoma hospital which has been registering approximately 1000 such patients in every given month, excluding the numbers being experienced in Webuye and Kimilili sub-county hospitals.
The pediatrician said if screening was intensified and tests made available to more citizens, chances were high that there could be more cases, rising to approximately 4000 and above.
Joy Watitwa, 36, a resident of Sinoko village, Bungoma County is one of the patients suffering from sickle cell anemia.
Watitwa narrated to KNA how the disease was first discovered on her at the tender age of four months and that since then, life has not been easy.
‘I often fell sick and my parents would rush me to hospital each time it happened, thinking it was just malaria, but when the situation persisted, further tests were done and it was then discovered that l was a sickler,’ she said.
Watitwa says she would later find out that she inherited the disease from her parents, who were both carriers leading to her acquiring an SS, which is a full carrier of the genes of both parents.
‘My parents had the same disease, they were both AS carriers meaning they were not full carriers, which genetically resulted in me being a full carrier SS,’ she expounded.
Sickle cell anemia is one of a group of inherited blood disorder known as sickle cell disease. It affects the shape red blood cells which carry oxygen to all parts of the body.
The red blood cells become sickle shaped, hence die early resulting in frequent infections, swelling in the hands and legs, pain, severe tiredness, and delayed growth or puberty among the affected patients.
As a hemoglobin SS sickler, I experience pain in the body and joints due to the abnormal formation of the hemoglobin, which causes the red blood cells to become rigid, she added.
At the same time, pain caused by the abnormal formation leads to sickle cell crisis, causing reduction in blood flow in the body, making one to experience severe pain unlike any other normal pain.
‘The pain runs through the whole body, even to the joint until one is not able to move due to the immense pain caused by inadequate blood flow,’ Watitwa said.
During the crisis, supply of oxygen and nutrients is very low causing the person’s eyes to become yellow and also extreme pain is felt in the bones and back due to quick shredding of the red blood cells in the body, unlike the normal red blood cells of a human being, which take 90-120 days to shred.
In her case, she is advised to manage herself in terms of safety precautions physically and health wise, because anything small that may endanger her may lead to a crisis.
‘As much as we take those measures we are advised to take medicine such as Paludrine so that in case of a mosquito bite we won’t be infected with malaria,’ she noted.
Watitwa says financing her medication has been very expensive, adding that her parents have played a big role by supporting her physically, emotionally and financially.
‘In December 2022, I was admitted in hospital and doctors had to drain all my blood and put in fresh one. It was an expensive process since I had to be in hospital full time, but it was helpful,’ said Watitwa, adding that the process of replacing blood costs about Sh250000 for persons without medical insurance.
Watitwa says that she had to travel to Nairobi to get the service done, since Bungoma medical facilities lacked the requisite machines.
On a positive note though, Dr. Lubanya says diagnosis of the disease was currently being done frequently due to the availability of HB electrophoresis screening machine at the county level.
However, the Bungoma based sickle cell clinic still lacks major drugs like Hydroxyurea, which is administered after the diagnosis to increase the patient’s blood level.
Equally, there has been shortage of Prophylaxis and folic acid for the treatment of malaria and bacterial infections respectively.
‘The drugs, especially Hydroxyurea are unaffordable by many sickler patients because of their high prices and also remain unavailable in our clinic,’ said Lubanga.
The pediatrician is now calling on the Bungoma county government to intervene and provide the essential facilities to help sickle cell patients access treatment with ease.

Source: Kenya News Agency

County Police Commander Assures Residents Of Security

Police in Turkana County have increased patrols along the Lokichar -Kainuk highway to curb attacks on passenger vehicles along the route County police commander Samuel Ndanyi has said.
Ndanyi’s assurance comes days after a matatu was attacked on Friday evening at Kakong.
He said passengers are safe to travel from Lodwar to Kitale.
As a result of the ongoing security operation in the North rift, a 6pm to 6am curfew was declared in Loima and Turkana south sub counties.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Turkana Council Of Elders Choose Their Leaders

The Turkana Council of Elders has new office bearers after the second official election was conducted on Saturday.
The election was conducted yesterday at Ceamo Village Lodwar in the presence of Ag. Director of Culture, Lemmy Ejorewoia and a host of culture and administration officers
A total of 70 members, representing all the sub-counties, agreed to elect the officials through secret ballot with Ejorewoia presiding over the elections as the Returning Officer.
Abraham Lokuwom emerged the winner after garnering 54 votes out of the 70 votes cast, while his only opponent Ekaran Abok garnered 16 votes.
Also elected was Samuel Eregae as the Vice chairperson, Cosmas Namaa as the Secretary and John Kaatho as the vice secretary.
During the treasurer’s position election, two contestants were competing namely Ekalale Lochakula who garnered 58 votes against his opponent Ekunoit who managed 10 votes. Benjamin Ebenyo was elected as the vice treasurer.
Also elected was the coordinator Peter Lomiinyi who garnered 53 votes against his opponent Philip Eyanae Emathe who managed 15 votes.
Speaking after the endorsement, Lokuwom decried the erosion of Turkana culture, which he vowed to restore during his tenure.
He said the roots of Turkana culture and their origin was slowly diminishing and, unless prompt action was taken, the community would not have anything to be proud of, in the coming days.
As a community, he added, the Turkana people have a wealth of cultural traditions that for decades had shielded them from engaging in wrong doing, but instead fostered unity of purpose.
‘We have to call several meetings aimed at restoring some cultural values that used to keep us together as a community,’ said Lokuwom.
He further said, ‘As a people we have to trace our origin and establish were we have come from and where we are heading to, else if we were not careful, a time will come when we will look back and regret.’
The Chairperson asked the culture department to allocate funds to train the elders on the content of the constitution to be used in management of council affairs.
Also present were members of the local security team led by the Officer Commanding Station David Mutegi and the Turkana central police boss Lemmy Njiru.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Counties Urged To Collect Updated Data On GBV

Counties have been urged to collect and update data on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in a bid to curb the vice that is rampant across the country.
National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) chairperson Dr. Joyce Mwikali over the weekend observed that the updated GBV databases generated at the county levels would go a long way in addressing issues relating to equality and freedom from discrimination for different special interest groups.
Speaking at a Nanyuki hotel during a one-day workshop on the dissemination of national monitoring and evaluation framework towards the prevention and response to GBV, Dr. Mwikali noted that her Commission would use such data to produce periodic reports for national, regional, and international reporting on the progress made in the realization of equality and freedom from discrimination.
She further noted that the NGEC Act mandates the Commission to co-ordinate and advise on public education programmes for the creation of a culture of respect for the principles of equality and freedom from discrimination.
‘It is against this background, and the fact that data specifically on Gender-Based Violence is critically needed to measure the progress made on Sustainable Development Goal Number, the Kenya 2030 development agenda, and counties’ commitments to ending GBV,’ Dr. Mwikali said.
She added that the Commission had spearheaded the development of the inaugural National Monitoring and Evaluation Framework towards Prevention and Response of Gender-Based Violence, and a corresponding 2015 Gender-Based Violence Information System (GBVIS).
‘The Commission has further spearheaded the development of a second edition of the framework with an aim of revising the sector indicators and expanding the system in terms of coverage of indicators, the range, scope, and levels of measurements, and data presentations. Also, the system and the framework incorporated other forms of gender-based violence including Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Child and Forced Marriages (CFM),’ she told the workshop.
Dr. Mwikali further stated that the framework was also designed to meet the critical needs of the key actors in the prevention and response to GBV in Kenya with attention to duty bearers.
The NGEC chairperson informed that workshop that plans for formulating the national GBVIS system were at an advanced stage and would soon be rolled out.
She noted that GBVIS shall also be useful in measuring progress made in the fulfillment of the commitments within the Kenya Kwanza Women Charter and by large the Kenya Kwanza manifesto in respect to ending all forms of harm and discrimination among women and children.
‘These will include a commitment on, increase the number of, and personnel at, gender desks at police stations; and implementation of the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act to eliminate Female Genital Mutilation,’ she said.
Laikipia County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri who was also present noted that updated data on GBV incidences was crucial in informing the government on planning and budgeting.
‘The government needs updated statistics in order to be aware of how the country is performing towards the fight against GBV,’ Kanyiri said.
The County Commissioner also called for the inclusion of the County government and the county assembly in coming up with relevant policies to help the fight against GBV.
The workshop drew stakeholders drawn from the health, education, the Judiciary Directorate of Public Prosecution, Labour and social protection, the Anti-FGM board, the British Army Training Unit in Kenya (Batuk), and various Civil Society Organizations.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Kisumu County To Promote Tourism Through The Fish Fiesta Festival

Fish lovers have every reason to smile this Easter as the County Government of Kisumu has organized a fish festival to sample the best freshwater fish from Lake Victoria.
County Director of Tourism Thomas Ouko said the signature event targets to woo visitors to the lake side county as efforts to revive tourism in the western circuit gain momentum.
Visitors will have a chance to eat various types of fish on the shores of Lake Victoria besides participating in other events lined up during the celebrations.
The event slated for 6th-9th April 2023 will bring together state and non-state agencies to promote tourism and chart the way forward on conservation of Lake Victoria.
Visitors will be treated to the best Luo cuisine, traditions and music with the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) displaying some of the various fish species found in Lake Victoria.
‘This lake used to be home to over 200 species of fish, but due to pollution and human activity the number has reduced significantly. That is why we are creating conversations around this matter to help conserve the lake,’ he said.
This, added Ouko, was in line with the county government’s agenda to promote Kisumu as a tourist destination of choice.
The department of tourism, he said, has launched a campaign dubbed ‘Kisumu My Pride’ with a goal to market the best the county has to offer to the world.
‘Lake Victoria is a key attraction. That is why the county government wants to promote it through various activities to attract visitors. Just the way people go to Mombasa to holiday we want them to come to Kisumu,’ he said.
Through partnership with the Osiepe Sango organization, a cleanup along the shores of the lake has been planned ahead of the key event.
Other events lined up during the festival include fireworks, boat racing, tug of war, photo contest, Mr and Mrs Tourism, Mr Flex, Mr Strong, Luo Traditional Wrestling, lake excursion and exhibitions.
Ouko said auditions for the events have been finalized and the winners in the various categories will compete during the celebrations to be held at Hippo Point Public Beach in Kisumu City.
Visitors and participants, he said, will also have a chance to engage in talk shows, symposia and a tour of the lake.
Besides promotion of tourism, the county director said the event will present an opportunity for the participants to exploit their talents with a view to earning a living from them.
‘Our goal is to expose the talent out there and support our youth to make a living out of it. Already some organizations have approached with the intention of absorbing some of the youth who have been participating in the Sub county auditions,’ he said.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Agency Rolls Out Programme To Promote Science, Technology And Mathematics

the Centre for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education in Africa (CEMASTEA) has rolled out a mentorship and outreach programme to schools to motivate learners to excel in Science, Technology Education and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.
Through the initiative, the State Corporation also aims to empower teachers across the country to deliver on the subjects at the same time spark interest in learners to support the government’s development and industrialization agenda.
CEMASTEA National Trainer Martin Mungai said through working with teachers, the State Corporation domiciled in the Ministry of Education had identified gaps in teaching methodologies adding that through the outreach program, teachers were being exposed to various models and resources that can be used to teach the subjects.
The models, he added, have been designed to simplify various concepts in Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, robotics and coding, Climate Change and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) to regenerate interest amongst learners.
CEMASTEA, he said, was empowering teachers with skills to use locally available resources to develop the models to aid in practical learning.
‘We realized that the biggest challenge was the lack of a practical approach to teaching STEM subjects. We are therefore demonstrating how teachers can use locally available resources to teach a concept in a very practical manner,’ he said.
The goal, he added, was to renew interest in the subjects through demonstrating their importance to students with a view to encouraging as many students as possible to pursue them.
‘As a country we may not have an opportunity to advance as fast as countries in the west if we do not embrace STEM subjects. So, there is a need to continually encourage our learners to show them the importance of STEM in the development of the country,’ he said.
Speaking during one of the outreach activities at Ken Obura Secondary School in Kisumu, Mungai said the hands-on activities with students will enable teachers to unpack concepts in easy and practical ways.
‘We are trying to connect what they are learning in class to the outside world and the opportunities available if they take up these subjects,’ he said.
CEMASTEA, he disclosed targets to reach at least 50 schools across the country this financial year expressing optimism that the outreach programme will have a ripple effect on performance in the subjects.
‘We have been inviting teachers and students to our innovative laboratories in Nairobi but you realize that most schools are limited with resources and are therefore not able to come,’ he said.
He challenged the teachers to take advantage of the skills acquired through the programme and be innovative to boost performance in the subjects.
‘Creation of an interest in a subject solely depends on the teacher. We encourage our teachers to create a positive attitude amongst the learners particularly in subjects like chemistry and physics and demonstrate to them why they need to pursue them for future possibilities,’ he said.
The trainers also visited St. John’s Christostom Secondary School, Bishop Abiero Shauri Moyo Secondary School and Lions Day Secondary School where students had hands-on experience with various concepts in STEM subjects.
Mungai said the exercise had wooed back students who had opted to drop some of the science subjects urging teachers to inspire hope and encourage more learners to take up the subjects.
‘When you see a number of students revising their choice of subjects after being exposed to these models it shows that there is hope in changing the attitude towards science and mathematics,’ he said.
Speaking during the same occasion, Kisumu Central Sub-County Director of Education Mr. Charles Ang’iela said the outreach programme was critical in reigniting interest in science and mathematics.
Through the programme, he said, more teachers and students will benefit from skills and practical knowledge to boost performance.
‘It is very expensive for a school to transport students and teachers to CEMASTEA headquarters but when they come here, they get in touch with many students and teachers. The equipment they bring to induct the teachers is very effective,’ he said.
The exposure given to students, he said, will help transform their attitude towards the subjects since some of the concepts which hitherto looked difficult have been simplified.
Elvira Gero, a Mathematics and Physics teacher at Bishop Abiero Shauri Moyo Secondary School said the approach by CEMASTEA was set to transform how the subjects are taught in secondary schools.
‘Most of us teachers are competing with coverage of the syllabus so we tend to overlook some practicals, Today I have learnt that if you approach a topic in a practical way, it is grasped faster than when you just do theory,’ she said.
Most of the schools in the area, she said, lacked basic laboratory equipment making it difficult for teachers to break down some of the concepts.
The sensitization by CEMASTEA on use of locally available resources to come up with teaching aids to demystify concepts in science and mathematics, she added, will go a long way in boosting performance in the subjects.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Labour-Based Model, Ideal For NG-CDF Projects

Labour based model, where materials and labourers are sourced locally has enabled the Kiharu National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) to minimize their development expenditure by about 40 percent, thus saving on resources to initiate more projects.
Speaking in his constituency, during a benchmarking visit by a group of his counterparts from the National Assembly, Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro said unlike the usual tendering process, the model evades contractors and residents are engaged directly to provide construction materials and labour, which saves on both the overall cost and time.
Nyoro said this has helped him to achieve a lot in terms of implementing cost effective NG-CDF funded projects in the area.
He challenged his fellow legislators to borrow leaf from Kiharu and embrace the same method, while implementing projects in their respective constituencies.
Nyoro explained that through the labour based model they have been able to renovate all the 112 public primary schools in his constituency.
‘All the public primary schools were renovated by painting, tiling and re-roofing, hence providing a conducive environment for learners,’ he added.
‘The tiling of the classrooms also helped to improve hygiene in the schools, while learners are motivated to concentrate in their studies,’ Nyoro told his counterparts as he took them for a visit in some of the local schools.
At the same time, Kiharu NG-CDF is currently funding provision of meals in all public day secondary schools in the constituency, where parents are only supposed to pay a fee of Sh1, 000 per term.
Kipipiri MP Wanjiku Muhia who was part of the visiting team said she was determined to learn how to use the model in implementing projects back at home.
‘I have learnt that this model emphasizes on transparency and gives people value for money. I hope to use it in doing projects for my constituents,’ she said.
On her part, Aldai MP Marianne Kitany revealed that some parts of her constituency still had mud-walled classrooms, hence reducing the cost of projects would help improve them.
‘Labour based approach is a perfect example of bottom-up approach, since local youths don’t have to travel to Nairobi to seek jobs. They can instead earn a living through NG-CDF projects, thereby boosting grassroots economies,’ she said.
On the other hand, Mogotio MP Reuben Kiborek observed that under the mentorship of Ndindi, they will pick what has worked from his programmes and implement it in their areas.
‘As leaders we need to embrace learning from one another. Even developed countries had to benchmark to get to their levels,’ he added.
Meanwhile, Nyoro lauded President Dr. William Ruto for writing to parliament with the intent of ensuring the NG-CDF fund is protected by being entrenched in the constitution.
The fund, he said, had contributed immensely to the implementation of Junior Secondary Schools by helping in construction of classrooms, besides assisting many needy students through issuance of bursaries.

Source: Kenya News Agency