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Health officials want to punish doctor in tetanus vaccine dispute

Health & Science

Kenya’s health authorities have vowed to punish the doctor who asked the Catholic Church to reject the tetanus vaccine.

Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia and the Director of Medical Services Nicholas Muraguri, said they had gathered enough evidence to show Stephen Karanja, an obstetrician gynaecologist, had breached the professional ethics.

Speaking at a meeting with the National Assembly’s health committee at Nairobi’s Continental House, Mr Macharia and Mr Muaraguri said they had tested the vaccines in independent laboratories both locally and internationally, and the results showed there was no link between the tetanus jab and the “conspiracy theory” that it was meant to be a form of birth control.

They said samples had been tested in Nairobi (Lancet laboratories) and in South Africa for a birth control hormone. “There’s no evidence of traces of the said hormone, HCG, in the vaccines that were procured centrally by the World Health Organisation, and the United Nations,” Muraguri told the MPs at the meeting.

He said with the evidence, they were ready to summon Dr Karanja to the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board for disciplinary action. “It is clear that he was wrong, and we now have to take action. It is very unethical. He based his arguments on some purported evidence, which, even after asking him to submit it, he has not done so to date,” said Muraguri.

Macharia said: “Dr Karanja, who is advising the church, told me he is a believer in the theory that the vaccine is meant to introduce birth control. When you hear that, you know you have to take his utterances with a pinch of salt.”

The committee chairperson Rachel Nyamai (Kitui South) and her deputy Robert Pukose led MPs in calling for Karanja to be disciplined. Nyamai regretted that efforts by the committee to get the Catholic Church to show up in the House and explain their position on the tetanus jab had failed.

Meanwhile, county governments have been commended for recognising the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) as their first port of call in procuring essential medical supplies. Macharia, who spoke yesterday during the launch of Kemsa and UN Children’s Fund (Unicef) partnership, said the Memorandum of Understanding’s signing would improve healthcare and service delivery.

“Both Unicef and Kemsa share common goals and objectives and their aim is to facilitate healthcare service delivery in all the counties. The target is to ensure uninterrupted supply of essential medicines, HIV and Aids-related supplies to all citizens of Kenya, especially women and children,” said the CS.

seamless services

He said the partnership is a national project whose aim is to support the counties public health facilities to receive Unicef’s procured essential medical supplies for free in a timely, effective and efficient manner.

“The Government is very supportive of the services Kemsa is offering to the counties public health facilities,” he said.

Kemsa Board of Directors Chairperson Solomon Karanja said they have entered into partnership with all the counties for supply of medical supplies through signing of agreements.

“Automation of business processes has been well on track and we are optimistic the Kemsa ICT system will be interlinked to the county health facilities for seamless services,” said Mr Karanja.

He said Kemsa re-configured its business model in order to align itself to the devolved system of government and ensure all counties public health facilities access medical commodities.

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