WHO certifies Kenya as dracunculiasis transmission-free
Geneva: The World Health Organization (WHO) has certified Kenya free of dracunculiasis transmission following the recommendation of the International Commission for the Certification of Dracunculiasis Eradication (ICCDE).
During its 12th meeting held at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland the ICCDE reviewed the report of an International Certification Team that visited Kenya in October 2017 to assess the
country's claim of having eliminated the disease, a WHO release on Sunday said.
"We congratulate Kenya and salute the work of the thousands of health workers and volunteers who braved difficult conditions for decades to achieve this milestone," said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
"This triumph should inspire us all to overcome diseases of poverty and improve the lives of vulnerable people while leaving no one behind," he said.
In his first face to face meeting with ICCDE members since he took office as Director-General of WHO in May 2017, Dr Tedros expressed his appreciation for the Commission's work over the years
and reiterated WHO's unparalleled commitment to eradicating dracunculiasis.
He added that with the help of partners such as The Carter Center, UNICEF and CDC, WHO will redouble its efforts in providing optimal support to Chad, Ethiopia, Mali and South Sudan, the four countries that remain endemic for the disease.
Dr Tedros also announced that he will personally follow up with leaders of those countries where transmission is still occurring and organize high-level visits to further motivate them to reach the
Kenya now becomes the 187th WHO Member State to be certified dracunculiasis-free, a major achievement for Kenya as it strengthens its commitment to advancing its agenda for universal health coverage.
Only seven countries remain to be certified. WHO is the only organization mandated to certify countries as free of transmission following the recommendation of the ICCDE.
In another important move, WHO has congratulated South Sudan for reporting zero human cases of the disease during the whole of 2017.
This unprecedented achievement is the consequence of a sustained eradication campaign led by the South Sudan Guinea Worm Eradication Programme and the country's Ministry of Health and partners.
"This is the result of good leadership as well as concerted efforts by all partners to get to where we are. Given the difficulties we experienced, we would not have done it by ourselves and we want to
thank our partners – WHO, UNICEF and The Carter Center and many others – who stood with us," said Dr Riak Gai Kok, Minister of Health of South Sudan.
"I also want to pay tribute to the country's leadership for staying focused to tackle the magnitude of this problem. Even during the war, we made sure that work continued in areas that were beyond control lines and that the people continued to get the care they needed."