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Kenya to roll out health coverage pilot program in December

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta will launch the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) pilot program on Dec. 1 and the program is expected to benefit over 3 million people, the presidency said on Tuesday.

The UHC pilot will be rolled out in the four counties of Isiolo, Kisumu, Nyeri and Machakos before it is finally scaled up to cover the rest of the country, State House said in a statement issued after a committee co-chaired by Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki and Isiolo Governor Mohammed Kuti briefed the president on their preparations ahead of the pilot program launch.

“The new UHC package will benefit at least 3.2 million Kenyans in the four pilot counties and is expected to contain a new bouquet of services accessible to Kenyans in public health facilities,” it said.

Kenyatta who met with the UHC Inter-Governmental Committee in Nairobi encouraged the governors to actively participate in an intensive sensitization exercise in the month of November before the pilot project is launched.

He said the success of the pilot program in the four counties will give clearance for full-scale roll-out of UHC.

Health experts have hailed the program saying that it will contribute towards achievement of UHC and will enhance the country’s capacity for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks, disease outbreaks and other public health events of international concern.

According to the government, the decision to pilot the program in the four counties was evidence-based considering their disease burdens.

Kisumu in Western Kenya was identified because it leads in the infectious diseases category especially for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis while Machakos in eastern region records the highest numbers of injuries mostly from accidents occurring along the busy Mombasa-Nairobi highway and the many winding roads in the county.

According the Health Ministry, Nyeri is part of the pilot because it leads in the non-communicable diseases segment especially diabetes while in Isiolo, the government will seek to establish how the package is well suited for nomadic and migratory populations.



African farmers embrace bio-pesticides to fight fall army worm

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The majority of farmers in Africa have turned to bio-pesticides to fight the fall army worm (FAW) that is ravaging food crops in the continent, according to a study launched here on Monday.

The study, by the Center for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI), was conducted in 19 African countries early this year, using the latest version of the national lists of registered pesticides.

It found that bio-pesticides have proven to be effective in combating the fall army worm.

“Safe, sustainable and effective intervention such as bio-pesticide is becoming popular with farmers in the FAW-infested countries,” said CABI Integrated Crop Management Adviser and lead researcher Melanie Bateman.

The study looked at 50 bio-pesticide active ingredients that have been registered in 11 countries in FAW’s native range where farmers have been managing this pest for centuries and 19 in Africa where it is relatively new.

The study was conducted in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zambia. Tunisia was also included in the analyses as representing the Mediterranean countries that may be at risk of fall army worm invasion.

Of the products studied, 23, including Neem and Bacillus thuringiensis and sex pheromones and microbials that are registered within sub-Saharan Africa, are recommended for further consideration.

The bio-pesticide products included 417 botanicals, 274 microbial and 271 microbial extracts or fermentation products.

Bateman called on governments to start subsidizing bio-pesticides where they are not locally available and also consider opportunities for their production locally in partnership with the private sector to enhance their access.

The study also found that several African governments have given out insecticides to farmers, including some highly hazardous products.

“While some farmers might be willing to pay a premium for a lower risk product, many smallholder maize farmers in Africa already have small margins, so (they) will seek to minimize the additional cost of controlling a new pest such as the fall army worm,” Bateman said.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has developed a Framework for Partnership which emphasizes alternatives to pesticides, such as microbial and their extracts, botanicals, semi-chemicals, inorganic biochemicals, predators and parasitoids.


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