Almost half a million newborn babies missed out on immunisation as a result of the nation-wide nurses’ strike.
The Kenya Red Cross Society Secretary General Abbas Gullet said children facing the biggest risk were in semi-arid and arid regions where pregnant women could not access private health services. He termed the lack of immunisation a time bomb.
Gullet asked county governors to spearhead a catch up programme for vulnerable babies who might have missed normal vaccines for polio and measles, which may endanger the lives of the children.
“The society has established that over half a million new born babies who were delivered during the national nurses strike did not get vaccines. This is a very serious health concern which needs attention,” said Gullet.
Polio vaccines prevent poliomyelitis while Measles vaccine is often given in combination with mumps and rubella.
The threat of death by disease is not the only medical consequence of skipping vaccines. An unvaccinated child faces potentially high risks of disease.
Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can cause fever, coughing and distinctive red-brown spots on the skin.
However, a collaborative effort by the Ministry of Health and Unicef has embarked on ‘catch up’ programe for immunisation that has already kicked off in Turkana, West Pokot and Garrisa among other arid and semi arid counties.
“This programme is only targeting a few counties, but it’s a challenge to all county governors to take up the challenge and ensure no newborn babies will miss this essential vaccination,” said Gullet.
Gullet made the remarks while addressing stakeholders during the official closure of the Global Fund on HIV conference bringing together various health actors held at Travellers Beach Hotel, Mombasa today.
The US$16 million sponsored global fund was started in 2012 and targets Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale and Taita Taveta counties.