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Kenya can prevent 40% of diseases by conserving the environment

Report: Conserving environment cuts disease spread

Kenyans can prevent 40 per cent of diseases by simply conserving the environment, a new report says.

Public Health and Sanitation assistant minister James Gesami Tuesday warned of an increase in contagious diseases if the fragile eco-system was not properly managed.

“Floods, drought and famine are a harsh reminder of the human-environmental links,” Dr Gesami said.

The Implementation of the Libreville Declaration report assesses Kenya’s ability to jointly solve environmental and health concerns to solve an upsurge of diseases.

The Situation Analysis and Needs Assessment calls for Kenya to institute a development plan to curb further interference of the environment.

Malaria, tuberculosis, cholera and typhoid continue to claim millions of lives in Africa due to persistent depletion of natural resources, the report said.

Dr Gesami pointed out that a further 20 per cent of infections were caused by poor water management practiced in water-prone areas.

The SANA report confirms findings in the 2007 Hospital Management Information System that pointed out that most diseases are largely due to water-related diseases.

Malaria, respiratory tract infections and diarrhoeal diseases were responsible for over half of outpatient illnesses in hospitals.

The disease was cited as the highest cause of poor health as its prevalence is dependent on environmental factors like temperature ranges and rainfall patterns.

Currently, about 56 per cent of Nairobi residents live in slums along the Nairobi river banks, encroaching on the reserves that support sanitary facilities.

“Cholera outbreaks are largely due to water shortage or contaminated water points,” Dr Gesami noted.

According to an analysis on Kenya’s efforts to implement the 2008 Libreville declaration, health and environment remain the greatest challenges in combating infectious diseases to date.

The report is a follow-up to the implementation of the agreement that was discussed in the inter-ministerial conference on Health and Environment in Africa in Libreville, Gabon, last year in August.

In the Libreville Declaration, 52 countries committed themselves to implement 11 priority actions to address health and environment challenges in Africa.

The countries were also required to set up plans to hasten the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Kenya alongside Gabon was picked to run pilot projects on the interrelation between the two sectors and implement the 11 action items.

According to health experts, root causes of global environmental degradation are tied in social and economic problems such as pervasive poverty, inequity of distribution of wealth and the debt burden.

The report calls for an urgent need to address health, environment and economic development issues in an interrelated manner to generate new links in poverty reduction.

Also in attendance were Public health permanent secretary Mark Bor and stakeholders from the ministries of Environment and Water ministry.

Source – The Nation

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