The Public Health Act

Posted on 19. Sep, 2009 by in Uncategorized


Some of you may have heard of the swine flu outbreak in the Kenya High School in Nairobi. It is reported that 23 school girls have been diagnosed with the influenza virus leading too the quarantine of the whole student body from the outside world.

Concerned parents flocked to the gates demanding that they see their children but were barred from doing so by the school security. Many argued that this action by the school administration stood in violation of their rights as parents to the children.

I sympathize with the parents. It must be horrifying knowing that there is confirmation of the disease in the school and yet you cannot see or withdraw your child. Any parent would be driven close to insanity with worry at the thought that their child could be at risk. That said, it would be of benefit to us to be aware of what the law says with regards to this situation.

The Public Health Act authorizes the Public Health Officer to take whatever action he deems necessary to prevent the spread of diseases noted to be a public health risk. This includes shutting down Mama Mboga’s restaurant that obtains its meat from suspect suppliers, closing the doors off your favorite nyama joint due to serving donkey meat and whether you may agree with it or not, declaring a quarantine in a school that poses a public health risk. The logic being that public interest overrides personal comfort. Is the logic sound? Send us your views on or post your comment on our Facebook wall. 

Oduwo Noah Akala,


Afya Kenya Foundation.

7 Responses to “The Public Health Act”

  1. Kang'ethe Njuguna 20 September 2009 at 6:43 pm #

    The idea is sound but i don’t think it’s sufficient to deny parents the very simple opportunity of seeing their children. Seeing the children does not require physical contact so some arrangement should have been put in place.
    Also, information is very important. Parents were being turned away at the gate by a very un/ill informed watchman;this could only heighten the anxiety.
    There should have been a clear explanation expressing facts. This helps in understanding amongst all and clear reporting by the press. This would go a long way in reducing panic in Kenya as is at the moment.

  2. Oduwo Noah Akala 20 September 2009 at 8:36 pm #

    You raise a very valid point Ken. Let me share the thoughts of Michael who posted a comment on our Facebook wall. It suggested that legislation should have played a bigger role in the curbing of the spread of HIV/AIDS. He is of the opinion that had the Public Health Act encompassed this scourge, it would have enabled the authorities put in palce measures to hold accountable individuals who do not get tested. Your thoughts?

  3. afyakenya 20 September 2009 at 9:38 pm #

    Also, I think it is important to define what exactly quarantine means and what it is for. When somebody is under quarantine, it means that under no circumstances is that person to be exposed to previously unexposed individuals through direct contact or otherwise. It is used to contain and limit the spread of contagious diseases such as swine flu which may even be spread via cough droplets that may remain suspended in the air for some time. A full quarantine is necessary.

  4. Wambùi Wanyoike 20 September 2009 at 10:25 pm #

    I think the manner in which the school outbreak was handled was necessary but as Ken said,the parents should have had someone,preferably the head mistress address them to ease their minds. About puttin AIDS patients under quarantine is not a quarantine people for the rest of their lives,from people they love,to leave thea children ‘orphan’ before they have even left this world. Responsible behaviour is what will eradicate AIDS.

  5. abubakar kasim 28 July 2010 at 10:32 am #

    Am sorry the fact most of our mamas are living on an informal life, i mean bellow standard. i being one of the public health officers (student from mombasa poly. university college) am concern that they are among those who at risk of geting infected with most of the communicable diseases eg typhoid, cholera etc. pleas its not that we are acting as opposers but creating avery condusive anvironment for evry kenyan. we need your cooperations to achieve our goals.

  6. New Haven Locksmith 15 January 2011 at 5:07 pm #

    Great beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your website, how can i subscribe for a blog web site? The account helped me a acceptable deal. I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear ideaI’m really impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to see a nice blog like this one today..

  7. Bundi walker 17 July 2011 at 3:23 pm #

    All of you seem to agree on the mama mboga and the risk they pose to society, but non of you is looking at the business side and the continued survival of this nation.
    A recent visit to the city council offices left me wondering.The mama mboga and the young people who sell foodstuffs (sausages, eggs, ice cream) along the road are not licensed to operate, on further inquiry am told its a health control issue. If these people are not licensed how then are the controls put in place. By licensing there is a greater possibility of ensuring that bad food does not get sold to the public, standards can be established that protect the members of public. and I believe this is possible through licensing.
    my issue with these laws is that they are limiting. they are not accommodating to the economic needs of this country. the common mwananchi wants the cheapest food they can get, and our young people are trying to make a living by selling food on our estate streets. street foods are sold allover even in the developed countries. By putting measures in place to ensure these people are able to sell food that is of good quality and safe for consumption is better in many ways than the current situation.

Leave a Reply