Polio vaccine shortage in Kenya

December 15, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 15 – A temporary hitch in the supply of polio vaccines to hospitals paralysed immunisation at various health facilities within Nairobi for close to a week.

The Director of Public Health Dr Shahnaaz Shariff however said on Tuesday that the shortage was not experienced in other parts of the country.

He said that the situation was a temporary problem of supply but it has since been sorted out.

“Our vaccines are usually procured by UNICEF and part of the problem was that the supplier could not deliver on time so we had to borrow vaccines from other hospitals in the country and make sure that this shortage is alleviated,” he told Capital News.

We had established that as recently as Monday, mothers seeking polio immunisation for their children at certain private hospitals in the city were advised to source them from elsewhere.

“It also affected a few of the government facilities and we are working very closely with UNICEF to make sure that our supply chain is sorted out,” Dr Shariff said.

“I am not sure of the number of hospitals affected but thank you for bringing that to our attention we appreciate it,” he added.

In August this year, the ministry conducted an emergency polio vaccination campaign after 17 cases mainly imported from neighbouring countries were reported in the country.

World Health Organisation defines polio as a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children.

The virus is transmitted through contaminated food and water, and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system. Many infected people have no symptoms, but do excrete the virus in their faeces, hence transmitting infection to others.

Initial symptoms of polio include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs. In a small proportion of cases, the disease causes paralysis, which is often permanent. Polio can only be prevented through immunisation.

Meanwhile the ministry said recent suspected cholera cases in a Nairobi slum had turned out to be diarrhoea.

Dr Shariff said the seven cases reported last week in Galole village near Eastleigh estate in Nairobi were as a result of consumption of illicit brew.

“It is a group of people who were drinking illicit brew then they ended up with diarrhoea and other cases of sickness. We at first thought it was cholera but it was not and fortunately we did not lose anybody,” he said.

He said other cases reported in Soweto slum were due to leaking and blocked sewer lines and the Nairobi City Council had been asked to urgently rectify the problem.

There were 159 confirmed cases of cholera as of the beginning of this month and over 4,700 reported cases of acute watery diarrhoea.

At least 131 deaths have occurred.


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