The rate of Hepatitis B infection is high and alarming in West Pokot, and the County government has raised an alarm concerning the same. According to the recent research done by the Ministry of Health, 13 among 100 people tested positive to Hepatitis B in North Pokot Sub County where is the disease is prone. A total of 122 cases of Hepatitis B have been reported in the County in the last four years because of factors that complicate the treatment of the disease that has ravaged parts of the county. One can get infected through contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids and can be spread through unprotected sex, sharing of needles, mother to child infections, although the newborn can be vaccinated to avoid infection.
Last year, 28 cases among them 4 health workers were reported whereby three people including one health worker died due to lack of medical care. Other areas are Lelan in Pokot South Sub County where two people died of the disease and nine infections were reported after screening residents. The County government is calling upon the residents to report any cases of the virus to the nearest health centre.
West Pokot County Health and Sanitation CEC Mr. Geoffrey Lipale said there is a need for urgent vaccination. “The disease is dangerous and the rate at which it’s spreading is alarming,” he said. Speaking to the press in Kapenguria, Mr. Lipale called on the national government to intervene. “We are partnering with the national government and there is a need to screen more people and vaccinate them,” he said. He said the County administration in partnership with the national government has distributed vaccines and are checking out affected areas, “We are currently mapping out affected areas in Chepareria, Kacheliba, Alale, Miskwony and Kodich areas ahead of vaccination,” said Lipale.
The Health CEC said the public should be educated about the disease, adding that a lack of awareness among residents on the causes and treatment options for the disease has posed a major challenge. West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo said that most patients travel to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret, about 300km away, to get medical care.