Kenya

Targets set to eradicate measles in Kenya, 5 million children targeted

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By Anthony Mwangi, Kenya Red Cross Society

Nyanza Province, in the western part of Kenya, has seen a high level of malaria cases that have resulted in a number of children being hospitalised. This is part of the reason why the national campaign against the eradication of measles was launched in Kisumu District, the third largest city in Kenya. Over 900,000 children are set to be immunised in Nyanza Province during the integrated countrywide mass measles immunisation campaign from 8th to 12th July 2006.

Over 1.7 Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets (LLINs) will also be distributed to children in Nyanza and Western Provinces, as well as Malindi and Lamu districts in the Coastal Province. A further 1.7 million nets will be distributed by August 2006 for large scale malaria prevention in Kenya. The campaign is free of charge and covers measles vaccination and LLINs to children aged between 9months and 5years, Vitamin A Supplementation to children aged between 6months and 5years and Oral Polio Vaccination (OPV) to children aged between 0months and 5years.

"We are immunising 5.1 million children under five years in 62 districts countrywide in this second phase of the measles immunisation," said Dr. James Nyikal, the Director of Medical Services. He added that all districts in Nyanza, Western, Rift Valley, Eastern Provinces except Isiolo, Moyale and Marsabit, and Coast Province except Tana River, will be targeted.

"This campaign involved planned actions and influence to reach all relevant segments and create an enabling environment and positive behaviour and social change," said the KRCS Secretary General Mr. Abbas Gullet. "It has the desired goal to support the Ministry of Health in sustaining major reduction in morbidity and mortality to malaria and childhood vaccine preventable diseases," Mr. Gullet said during the launch of the campaign in Kisumu.

KRCS is involved in 17 districts. They include; Nyanza Province covering Siaya, Kisumu, Rachuonyo; Coast Province covering Kilifi, Lamu, Malindi, Kwale and Mombasa; Rift Valley Province covering West Pokot, Kajiado, Bureti and Kericho; Western Province covering Busia, Bungoma, Lugari and Vihiga; and Eastern Province covering only Machakos.

"We have managed to support the campaign through the social mobilisation of the community in the market area, homesteads and other social places, and then delivered education messages about the immunisation," said Philemon Majwa, the KRCS Kisumu Branch Coordinator and an Immunisation Focal Persons (IFP) for Kisumu. "We are also assisting the campaign with logistical support of trucks and landcruisers, as well as distributing nets at the vaccination posts," he said, while coordinating the effort at an outpost near Kisumu. The Branch has 112 trained volunteers in the campaign.

2,400 National Society volunteers have already been commissioned to assist during the campaign period countrywide. These volunteers are being co-ordinated by 17 IFPs in conjunction with the Ministry of Health (MoH) personnel. "The National Society will utilise 25 trucks and 10 landcruisers to cover the 17 districts," said Dr. Kisia, the KRCS Head of Health and Social Services. "We therefore anticipate that the campaign is expected to reach 100% coverage in most of the districts, largely due to the effort of the KRCS volunteers involved in social mobilisation," he said.