The County Assembly of Garissa has been urged to come up with legislations that would compel parents and guardians to ensure all children under the age of 5 are immunised.
The call comes as it emerged that over 5,000 children had not been immunised during the mass immunisation exercise that was conducted last year.
During a sensitisation forum for policy makers held at a Garissa hotel, members of the budget committee in the County Assembly were urged to allocate a stand-alone budget for immunisation since statistics shows that the numbers would have been extremely low were it not for Rapid Response Initiative (RRI), a presidential directive that pushed the figures to 78 percent in 2018 down from 55 percent in 2017.
Speaking at the forum, Zahara Hussein, a programme officer at Sisters Maternity Home (SIMAHO) decried the increasing number of unimmunised children in the county.
“We are putting the lives of these 5,000 children at risk. A deliberate effort must be put in place that will ensure no
child under the age of 5 is not immunised,” Hussein said.
“I am urging member of the county assembly to prioritise this issue by ensuring that parents are compelled to immunise their children while at the same time allocating funds to capture all children in the county,” she added.
Hussein singled out insecurity that led to the closure of public health facilities especially in far flungareas that used
to offer immunisation services as, some of the drawbacks in the success of the immunisation programme.
She added that nomadic ways of life among the rural populous and lack of medical staff have compounded the problem.
“We must come up with mobile clinics to follow the nomads on the move in search of pasture and water for their animals. The county and national government together with development partners should deliberate efforts to ensure that all children under 5 are immunised,” she said.
According to a 2018 report from Kenya Expanded Programme on Immunisation (KEPI) vaccination against measles and rubella virus in Garissa County stands at 36 percent followed by tetanus 2 at 54 percent while polio leads with 81 percent coverage.
The MCAs present promised to organise forums in their respective wards during the recess. They are also vowed to pass bills and allocate more funds to the health docket.
By Jacob Songok