, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 12 – The Ministry of Health has assured that Measles-Rubella- Tetanus immunization exercise that is set to kick off next week will be a safe process since all volunteers’ have been adequately trained.
The largest ever event to be held in the country is targeting 19 million children between the ages of 9 months and 14 years.
The exercise will not be carried out door to door but will instead take place in all public health facilities as well as identified churches and schools in the country. This is so since the vaccines need to be stored under certain conditions.
The Rubella vaccine will be administered for the first time in the country, after it was noted that many cases of the disease were being reported with the most affected group being that of expectant women, consequently causing deformity and other serious birth defects to the unborn child.
Speaking during a media briefing on the campaign on Thursday, Health Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri said the exercise will seek to ensure maternal child survival as well as improve immunization coverage from the current 80% to 95% in the country.
“This 2016 campaign serves as a catch up campaign to capture children unimmunized from measles disease either due to reasons of vaccine efficiency levels or due lack of being routinely vaccinated,” said Muraguri.
“The campaign also seeks to help the country progress towards global measles and rubella control and elimination goals,” cited Muraguri.
Seconding the PS’s statement was Collins Tabu from the Unit of Vaccines and Immunization Services, Ministry of Health where he stated that Rubella is a leading cause of congenital defects, with 100,000 cases being reported in developing countries annually.
“Deaths and Disabilities from Measles and Rubella are completely preventable. If a critical number of people within a community are vaccinated against a particular illness, the entire community is less likely to get the disease-herd immunity,” said Tabu.
Rubella just as measles is a highly infectious disease and humans are the only reservoir.
In 2014 the disease surveillance and response unit investigated 1570 suspected measles cases out of which 557 cases were rubella positive, an indication of the high incidence of Rubella within the population which is easily mistaken for measles.
Over 97% of these confirmed rubella cases were children less than 15 years whom will be targeted in the upcoming campaign.
55% of confirmed cases were male and 45% female. This underscores the need to vaccinate both genders and children in order to reduce the infection rates within the communities.
Kenya conducted its first measles catch up campaign in 2002 with the second one being conducted in 2012 and targeted nearly 6 million children aged 6 months and 3 years.
Countries in the African Region have established the goal to eliminate measles by 2020.