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Seven million children at risk as measles kill 70

By | Sep 18th 2009 | 2 min read
By | September 18th 2009

By Elizabeth Mwai

A fresh outbreak of measles has put nearly seven million children at risk of contracting the deadly disease.

Public Health Minister Beth Mugo yesterday raised the alarm and announced a Sh1.4 billion ($1.8million) countrywide campaign to protect the most vulnerable children.

Said Ms Mugo: "These unvaccinated children are at a very high risk of contracting measles as well as suffering from the most serious effects of measles."

About 1.3 million children below five years, who were not vaccinated during the national immunisation face the risk of suffering from severe effects like pneumonia, meningitis or death.

Briefing the Press at the ministry headquarters, Mugo said more than 70 cases have been reported and confirmed in Fafi District of North Eastern Province and Turkana Central District of Rift Valley Province.

Parents implored

The minister said apart from measles vaccine, children aged between six months and five years will receive vitamin A to boost their immunity and prevent the disease from developing into its severe form.

She said about 113, 286 children in Turkana District will also receive polio vaccine.

World Health Organisation, Unicef and other donors will sponsor the initiative scheduled to kick off tomorrow.

Mugo said vaccination teams will visit nursery schools, kindergartens, children homes and places of worship to ensure all children below five years have been vaccinated,

The minister appealed to parents to allow their children to be vaccinated against the killer disease.

"I also wish to appeal to the administration officials, DCs, DOs and chiefs to make sure they inform the people about this campaign," said Mugo.

Mugo said the quick response is likely to avert a further spread of the disease.

Public Health Director Shahnaaz Sharif said when a similar immunisation was conducted in 2006 the disease had claimed about 120 lives.

"This year we are saying that no single child will die because of measles and that is why we are conducting a nationwide campaign," said Dr Sharif.

However Sharif said although the measles vaccine is life long it is only 85 per cent effective and hence the need to ensure that children get a second dose in order to be fully protected.

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