Education Cabinet Secretary (CS), Ezekiel Machogu, on Saturday, April 15 made a series of changes at Mukumu Girls High School in Kakamega County which he visited since it was closed indefinitely on Monday, April 3.
The changes saw the CS transfer the school’s principal and dissolve its Board of Management, promising to appoint new members.
The School Principal, Frida Ndolo, was transferred and replaced by Jane Mmbone who will serve in the same capacity in the foreseeable future.
Machogu further noted that the government was investigating the incident of a disease outbreak at the school which led to the death of four people, that is a teacher and three students.
It is worth it to note that the Teachers Service Commission Act 2012 gives the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) the powers to hire, transfer or fire a teacher upon the body, and not the Cabinet Secretary for Education. However, the CS can only proclaim a teacher’s transfer as per the Law, meaning in this case, TSC will most likely write to Principal Fridah, formally informing her of the transfer.
The Ministry of Health on Friday, April 14 confirmed the reported outbreak of the possible infectious disease in Mukumu Girls and Butere Boys High Schools, with acting Director of Health Services Patrick Amoth revealing in a statement that the disease presents with fever, abdominal pain/cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Despite ongoing comprehensive investigations, data analyzed thus far indicated that the disease was alleged to have started on March 1, 2023.
The Ministry further took several water, food and human tissue samples, from which preliminary laboratory investigations undertaken had since revealed Enterotoxigenic E. coli and Salmonella typhi as the causes of the illness.
Further laboratory investigations carried out on the grains and pulses for aflatoxin turned negative for aflatoxicosis- a dangerous fungal infection from poorly stored cereal grains.
“In addition, laboratory tests for Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers (VHFS) including Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), Marburg Virus Disease (MVD), Leptospirosis and Crimean- Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), Dengue Fever, Rift Valley Fever (RVF) and West Nile Virus have all turned negative.
“The Ministry is conducting further analysis on these samples to ascertain any other potential cause of this illness and will communicate the finding of these tests,” stated Amoth in part.
Amoth further revealed that the disease was likely to be a mixture of E. coli and Salmonella typhi which usually occurs if water sources are contaminated with these micro-organisms.
The diseases have a high potential of person-to-person spread, especially in congregate settings where people live and eat in close proximity.
As a result of the disease outbreak, as of April 14, 627 patients have been taken ill; while 19 students are currently admitted to seven health facilities across the country, all of who are in stable condition. Unfortunately, four patients died of the illness.
Following the outbreak and subsequent deaths, Kenyans had called for action to be taken against the Mukumu Girls principal over how she handled the crisis, especially after she shifted blame to the media for creating a toxic environment.