, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 11 – The government has advised Kenyans travelling to northern Uganda to get vaccinated against yellow fever, after an outbreak was reported in the region.
Public Health and Sanitation Director Dr Shahnaaz Sharif asked people to get vaccinated at least seven days before travelling to Uganda.
"My advice to Kenyans planning to travel to northern Uganda is that they must get vaccinated at least seven days before the day of travel. A safe and effective vaccine against yellow fever exists," he said.
He said those vaccinated in the last 10 years against yellow fever did not require to be vaccinated again.
In Kenya, yellow fever vaccination is available at Nairobi City Council\’s public health department, all ports of entry, public health units, private hospitals and selected clinics in Nairobi and Kisumu municipal council\’s public health departments.
Dr Sharif further asked people especially those at the Uganda-Kenya border to be on the lookout and report any suspected cases to the nearest health centres.
Following the outbreak in 12 districts of northern Uganda which has so far claimed 51 lives and left 155 others infected, he said Kenya had dispatched a team of experts to high risk districts in Turkana which borders Uganda.
He said the team would enhance cross-border disease surveillance, create awareness and supervise health facilities in the high risk areas.
The experts will also work with communities at risk to detect any cases of the disease and form outbreak management teams to ensure the disease is contained.
According to the director, the ministry has also constituted a national multi-sectoral coordination team which comprises the World Health Organisation, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and Centres for Disease Control (CDC) to come up with a national preparedness plan to manage the disease.
He expressed fears that the disease could easily spread due to the drought being experienced in Turkana where people were moving to different places in search of food and water.
"A new challenge has emerged due to the current severe drought being experienced in northern Kenya which has led many Kenyan pastoralists in Turkana District crossing the border with their livestock into Uganda in search of pasture," he said.
Kenya experienced a yellow fever outbreak in 1992 in Kerio Valley.
The latest warning follows an emergency polio vaccination launched in Kenya last year after an outbreak of polio was reported in Eastern Uganda.
Dr Sharif said the polio campaign launched in 22 high risk districts in Kenya had surpassed the target in the first and second rounds which was a good indication that the disease had been controlled.
He announced that the 3rd round of the polio vaccination would run from January 15 to 19 and targeted about one million children aged less than five years.
"We are appealing once again to all parents with children below five years to make them available for vaccination which will be offered door to door but also available in all government health facilities," he said.