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Compensation call as ‘measles vaccination’ babies are buried

It was an emotional send off yesterday for the two babies who died after receiving controversial measles jabs in Kapkondot, Elgeyo Marakwet County.

Local political leaders who attended the burial asked that their families be compensated by the county government because the babies had developed complications after receiving  measles vaccinations at Kabetwa Health Centre which is run by the county.

Last week on Tuesday, two babies aged nine and seven months died while others were hospitalised when they developed complications after receiving the vaccine.

The children — Lucinda Jepchumba and Brian Kimutai — were in good health when they were taken by their parents for the jab at the dispensary but passed on shortly after receiving the injection.

At the joint funeral service at the Toroko Primary School, emotions run high as locals and politicians called for justice for the minors.

Marakwet East MP Kangogo Bowen said their death was a result of negligence and stressed that the county administration had a case to answer.

“We ought to sue the county for allowing such negligence . . . this happened under their watch. Whether the drug had expired, wrongly administered or injected by an unqualified clinician, it all boils down to professional negligence which is a criminal offence,” said Bowen.

The area legislator pointed out that the children were healthy before the vaccine was administered.

One of the mothers agreed. “When my child was injected she cried and I thought it was normal pain for the prick but suddenly she became drowsy, her pupils dilated and she passed away in my arms,” Daisy Kemboi, mother of one of the deceased babies, narrated.

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said the family and county authorities should meet to discuss a compensation plan for the affected families.

“It is difficult to rule the matter as total professional negligence at this moment because no concrete examination report has been released. However, the county government and national stakeholders should meet with the family and plan how they will compensate them,” Murkomen said.

Echoing the senator’s sentiments, the area Governor Alex Tolgos said a compensation plan would be worked out.

“This turn of events is tragic for the affected families but the blame game is not useful. The families have lost their dear ones and we will need to sit down and sign an agreement on how we can compensate them without going to court,” said Tolgos.

The governor also called for an end to the blame game.

“We need to look into the details that led to this death and stop throwing blanket accusations. It is prudent for the suspected health worker to be investigated to come up with a comprehensive report that will include compensation for the affected families,” said Tolgos.

County Executive Committee member in charge of Health Thomas Ruto said the person who administered the vaccine was a community health worker.

“So far, it is not a case of professional negligence because preliminary postmortem reports indicate the vaccines were administered in the right way,” added Ruto.

Postmortem on the two bodies was conducted on Wednesday at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital but the facility’s director Dr John Kibosia said they did not have conclusive results until samples are taken to the Government Chemist for further tests. Moreover, County Criminal Investigations Officer (CCIO) Michael Baraza said the postmortem report is not conclusive.

“We are waiting for samples from the Government Chemist to fully ascertain the cause of death. Already an inquiry file has been opened and the ‘doctor’ who administered the vaccine has recorded a statement with us,” said Baraza.

The CCIO said when investigations are concluded, the file will be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions for further direction.

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