Assessment of the healthcare providers knowledge and capacity to detect rift valley fever infections in Maragua Sub-County of Murang’a County of Kenya
Gacheru, Stephen G.
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Rift valley fever (RVF) is a zoonotic mosquito-borne viral disease found in Africa and other continents and is documented in Kenya since 1910. Mosquito and other insect bites, contact with body fluids during slaughter, milking, treatment and examination and consumption of under-cooked contaminated animal products transmit the disease. In epizootic areas, RVF causes abortion in majority of pregnant ewes and cows while high mortality occurs among newborn lambs making diagnosis easy. In humans the disease causes hemorrhagic fever, encephalitis, retinal vasculitis and death. Laboratory confirmation is necessary especially when RVF extends to new regions. The lack of capacity and ability to detect RVF infections early has resulted in massive economic losses in herds of sheep and cattle, and human fatalities. Outbreaks are associated with high population of vector insects as occurs following unusually high level rainfall with prolonged flooding. With the increasing trends of flooding in Kenya, it is apparent that there is need for more attention on the disease. Outbreaks in Kenya are in 5-15 years’ cycle, the most recent being December 2006 to June 2007. Since the first outbreak, Murang’a County has always been one of the high risk areas. The capacity of healthcare providers and healthcare facilities in Murang’a County to handle and diagnose RVF is not known. This study assessed the capacity of healthcare providers’ and healthcare facilities to diagnose Rift Valley Virus infections. Sixty-six (66) healthcare facilities, Government, Private and Faith-based were censured, data obtained and relevant data on Rift Valley Virus infections extracted for analysis. Data was collected by administering structured questionnaires to eighty-four purposely and conveniently selected healthcare providers in the healthcare facilities while the capacity of the healthcare facilities was determined by a checklist as per World Health Organization (WHO) standards for RVF diagnosis. The data was processed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences. This study found that the healthcare providers lacked the capacity to detect RVF while most facilities lacked equipment to detect and handle RVF. There was no significant difference in education and training levels of the health care providers in the health care facilities (P= 0.5132) and (P = 0.8124), respectfully. The tools, equipment and facilities available in the healthcare institutions were found to be below the WHO expectations. The study recommends carrying out of similar studies in other high-risk counties for better understanding and preparedness in case of an outbreak. The study also informs the Kenya Government on the priority areas of training, re-training and requirements of healthcare providers especially in high-risk locations.