Turkana Department of Health and Sanitation, in partnership with UNICEF Kenya, has launched a 10- day Measles/Rubella vaccination campaign covering the entire county and targeting 146,129 children under the age of five years.
The campaign came in the wake of a reported outbreak at the Kakuma Refugee Camp and the host community, where 14 cases were confirmed.
Turkana joins six other counties that have less than 90 percent coverage of the routine first and second dose measles vaccine coverage.
Speaking during the campaign launch at Lodwar County Referral Hospital (LCRH), Health and Sanitation County Executive Committee Member Dr. Anthony Apalia said that the campaign will involve outreaches in addition to all immunizing health facilities.
“The county has witnessed reduced coverage due to highly mobile nomadic populations, an influx of refugees and the ongoing drought, which has affected a large population of vulnerable malnourished children,” said Dr. Apalia.
He urged all Turkana residents to take their children to the nearest health facility for immunization. He also assured the residents that the vaccine is safe and will be administered by qualified healthcare workers.
Head of Family Health Division Gabriel Lopodo said that the campaign offers the county a second chance to vaccinate the children at the community level and reach the second dose defaulters as well as administer Vitamin A.
Speaking during the launch, Dr. Eriku Kidalio (Deputy Director – LCRH), Amos Ekitela Ewoi (Sub- County Medical Officer of Health,Turkana Central) and Lokaale Erot (Unicef Kenya representative) urged residents to turn out in large numbers to protect their children against the highly contagious childhood viral disease.
Other counties targeted are Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, West Pokot and Nairobi.
World Health Organization Kenya, UNHCR Kenya, Vaccines Kenya, Save the Children Kenya, International Rescue Committee are some of the organisations involved in the campaign.
By Peter Gitonga