KENYA – The Ministry of Health in Kenya has kickstarted a special measles-rubella vaccination campaign in an effort to contain outbreaks recorded across six counties.
The country has launched a ten-day immunization drive targeting 1.2 million children aged between 9 to 59 months to ensure they are protected against the disease and its serious effects.
“The launch of the campaign follows reported measles outbreak in 6 counties of Garissa, Mandera, Marsabit, Nairobi, Turkana, and Wajir,” said a press release by the health ministry.
According to the government statement, the ongoing vaccination campaign will focus on children living in the six affected counties as well as neighboring West Pokot County.
Principal Secretary (PS) in the State Department for Medical Services, Engineer Peter Tum urged the public, parents, and guardians to ensure their children receive an additional dose of measles and rubella vaccine during the launching ceremony in Garissa County.
“The vaccine will be delivered through in-fixed posts and temporary-fixed outreach posts supported by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF),” said incoming PS Tum.
He stressed that the vaccine will protect children against rubella disease which resembles measles while noting that the government was determined to improve mother and child conditions.
In addition, he observed that the number of children who die young had reduced due to immunization and improved health services.
“The Ministry of Health, in line with the Afra Bora Mashinani initiative, is keen to ensure that primary health care services reach those who need them in good time,” outlined Tum.
The government official further said that the health ministry is committed to supporting devolution and collaborating with counties to improve health outcomes.
Tum advised families, communities, county governments, partners, and all stakeholders to adhere to public health measures such as going for vaccination and maintaining proper sanitation to mitigate the spread of diseases.
“Cholera outbreak has also affected ten counties: Nairobi, Kiambu, Nakuru, Uasin-Gishu, Kajiado, Murang’a, Machakos, Garissa, Meru, and Nyeri,” the PS said.
He further emphasized that they should put in place preventive measures including hand washing, proper sanitation, and encourage anyone with persistent diarrhea to visit the nearest health facility amid the “unprecedented” surge in cholera cases.
Anselme Motcho, UNICEF Country Representative, said: “Measles, which is one of the worst contagious diseases, remains a threat with the risk having increased significantly in the wake of COVID-19 disease.”
He further said that conflict and the pandemic have disrupted routine vaccination as he pledged his organization’s commitment to support the Kenyan government in delivering its health agenda.