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Ministry urged to avert measles

By Elizabeth Mwai

The Public Health Ministry has been urged to avert a measles disaster.

The Parliamentary Committee on Health Chairman Robert Monda yesterday said the disease has spread to more than three provinces and now poses danger to the remaining four.

This comes after the Government revealed that it has bought 80 per cent of measles doses at Sh37 million. However, the Government is still debating whether to conduct immunisation during April holidays or when schools reopen.

"What is clear is that diseases do not wait once they come, so you have to quickly cover those who are not immunised," said Mr Monda.

In an interview with The Standard he said they have already asked Public Health Minister Beth Mugo to put in place measures to mitigate further spread of measles.

Immunisation

"We expect the minister to act quickly because measles is not part of a running programme, she should walk the talk" said Monda.

Monda said the committee would do a follow up to establish the strategies that have been put in place to deal with measles spread.

So far more than 50 cases have been confirmed while over 400 cases have been reported.

The Director of Public Health Shanaaz Sharif said there has been an increase in the number of reported cases with the majority being in Nairobi, followed by North Eastern and Turkana.

"We are appealing to all parents to ensure they take their children for routine immunisation so that they are protected from measles," said Sharif.

So far he said they have 80 per cent of the doses required for the campaign with the remainder expected by the end of next week.

Sharif said the vaccine was effective even for people aged 20 years but the young ones are more susceptible. Public Health Head of Disease Control Willis Akhwale said in the last two months they have seen an increase in the measles cases.

The medic revealed that the index also known as first cases is reported to have come from Kakuma refugee camp and spread to Eastleigh.

In Nairobi the immunisation coverage is about 60 per cent while in Turkana it’s about 55 per cent.

"If a measles outbreak finds a population that is not highly immunised it becomes an epidemic," he said.

Dr Akhwale said the measles outbreak is now affecting old children, with its current victim being a 15-year-old.

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