by Christine Lagat
NAIROBI, June 21 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's ministry of health will seek new partnerships to re-invigorate the war against respiratory infections that have emerged as a leading cause of deaths among low income groups, officials said late Tuesday.
Cabinet Secretary for Health, Cleopa Mailu said that priority will be accorded to biomedical research, diagnostic capacity and public awareness to contain the spread of respiratory infections.
"We are focusing on an integrated approach to prevent and manage respiratory diseases that have become more severe against a backdrop of environmental pollution and drugs resistance," Mailu said.
He spoke during the opening ceremony for the 4th Kenya international scientific lung health conference attended by policymakers, researchers and advocates.
Kenya has domesticated global instruments to strengthen response to respiratory diseases that include pneumonia, asthma and tuberculosis.
Mailu noted that poor environmental hygiene, poverty, broken health infrastructure and anti-microbial resistance have constrained efforts to contain respiratory infections.
"There is a growing recognition on the negative impacts of high rate of respiratory diseases to the overall economic and social outcomes in the country," said Mailu.
Adequate investments in research, training and modernization of health facilities is key to manage lung diseases, he added
The cabinet secretary noted that Kenya is among Sub-Saharan African countries that have rolled out robust interventions to reduce fatalities linked to respiratory diseases.
"Kenya last year became the first country in the world to launch child friendly tuberculosis drug," said Mailu adding that investments in vaccines and first line drugs will help reduce the burden of respiratory infections in poor settings.
The Kenyan ministry of health and partners must scale up investments in targeted interventions like early diagnosis, treatment and care in order to reduce deaths related to lung diseases.
Meshack Ndirangu, the Amref Health Africa Country Director for Kenya said that intensive surveillance in high risk regions coupled with capacity building for community health workers will revitalize the fight against acute respiratory infections.