Kathryn G. Curran | Emma Wells | Samuel J. Crowe | Rupa Narra | Jared Oremo | Waqo Boru | Jane Githuku | Mark Obonyo | Kevin M. De Cock | Joel M. Montgomery | Lyndah Makayotto | Daniel Langat | Sara A. Lowther | Ciara O'Reilly | Zeinab Gura | Jackson Kioko
Date of Publication:
Jun 11, 2018
BMC public health
From December 2014 to September 2016, a cholera outbreak in Kenya, the largest since 2010, caused 16,840 reported cases and 256 deaths. The outbreak affected 30 of Kenya’s 47 counties and occurred shortly after the decentralization of many healthcare services to the county level. This mixed-methods study, conducted June–July 2015, assessed cholera preparedness in Homa Bay, Nairobi, and Mombasa counties and explored clinic- and community-based healthcare workers’ (HCW) experiences during outbreak response. Some facilities lacked key materials for treating cholera patients, diagnosing cases, and maintaining infection control. Overall, 82% (36/44) of health facilities had oral rehydration salts, 65% (28/43) had IV fluids, 27% (12/44) had rectal swabs, 11% (5/44) had Cary-Blair transport media, and 86% (38/44) had gloves. A considerable number of facilities lacked disease reporting forms (34%, 14/41) and cholera treatment guidelines (37%, 16/43). In FDGs, HCWs described confusion regarding roles and reporting during the outbreak, which highlighted issues in coordination and management structures within the health system. FGD participants described supply challenges affecting laboratory preparedness and infection prevention and control. Perceived successes included community engagement, health education, strong collaboration between clinic and community HCWs, and HCWs’ personal passion to help others. The confusion over roles, reporting, and management found in this evaluation highlights a need to adapt, implement, and communicate health strategies at the county level, to inform and train HCWs during health system transformations. International, national, and county stakeholders could strengthen preparedness and response for cholera and other public health emergencies in Kenya, and thereby strengthen global health security, through further investment in the existing Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response structure and national cholera prevention and control plan, and the adoption of county-specific cholera control plans.