Professor Njeri Wamae (Dean, School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences) receives a Certificate of Recognition from the Cabinet Secretary for Health Ms. Sicily Kariuki for her role as Chairperson of the Guinea Worm Eradication Certification Committee, during a ceremony on Thursday, May 17 at the Sarova Panafric in Nairobi. PHOTO: COURTESY
By Ernest Mwanzi
The Dean of the School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Prof. Njeri Wamae (Professor of Parasitology), has been recognized by the Cabinet Secretary of Health Ms. Sicily Kariuki for her contribution towards the eradication of Guinea worm disease, during a ceremony held on Thursday, May 17 at Sarova Panafric Nairobi.
As Chairperson of the Guinea Worm Eradication Certification Committee, Prof. Wamae led a team of eminent researchers and representatives of various non-governmental organizations in conducting a four year campaign to stamp out guinea disease from Kenya. Each committee member adopted five counties, where they coordinated with national and county government health and administration officials in extensive research, involving several awareness campaigns.
Kenya was certified free of the Guinea worm disease by the World Health Organization (WHO) in February 2018, after a recommendation by the International Commission for the Certification of the Dracunculiasis Eradication (ICCDE). It becomes the 41st country in the WHO African Region to be certified free of the disease.Guinea worm disease (GWD) is caused by the parasitic worm Dracunculus medinensis, which propagates through drinking of stagnant water containing the guinea worm larvae, and is prevalent in poor rural communities with scant access to safe drinking water. It has been slated by WHO officials as the first parasitic Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) to be eradicated.
“Being free of GWD is an indicator of a better economic status as a country…[and] shows the whole world that Kenya has the necessary expertise to eliminate any other disease,” noted Prof. Wamae. Since Kenya is the regional travel hub as well as home to refugees from neighboring countries, the country still faces a significant risk of reintroduction of the disease.
Prof. Wamae’s work raises the profile of the School as a center of excellence in health science research. The School launched a new Bachelor of Science degree program in Epidemiology and Biostatistics this summer to fill the need for more researchers who can design, analyze and interpret data derived from studies in public health and medicine.