NAIROBI, May 17 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's health ministry on Thursday officially received Guinea worm disease free certificate from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Rudi Eggers, WHO country Representative in Kenya, said the certification comes after a comprehensive evaluation by the International Certification Mission (ICT) in December 2017 that found the country to be free of Guinea worm disease.
"Kenya can now get a relief knowing that the country has been certified free of Guinea worm disease and that Guinea worm is no longer a disease of burden in the country," Eggers told journalists in Nairobi.
He said that the ICT team found no evidence of Guinea worm transmission in the country in the three years due to adequate surveillance following rumors on the disease.
Eggers noted that Kenya was declared Guinea Worm free on Feb. 20 following the acceptance and signing of the recommendations by the WHO Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus.
Eggers, however, challenged the national health teams to sustain the status through close surveillance especially across the borders to check the risk of importation from neighboring countries like Ethiopia that is still endemic for Guinea worm.
"The emphasis must be on special populations like the nomad communities and refugees until the global eradication is met," he added.
Sicily Kariuki, Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for Health, said that the achievement is a historic one, adding that the government will continue conducting regular surveillance to ensure that the disease does not re-emerge in the country.
"The certification is an indication that Kenya is heading towards a Universal Health Care (UHC) that has to be achieved by the year 2020," she added.
Kariuki said that the elimination of Guinea worm disease is now the second one to be eradicated after smallpox.
"We should be alive to the continued threat of importation of Guinea Worm cases from South Sudan and Ethiopia and the need to ensure that our surveillance system is robust enough to detect and contain cases promptly, whenever and wherever they may occur," she added.