Kenya steps up immunization to tame killer diseases

NAIROBI, April 26 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's Ministry of Health said Wednesday that it had stepped up vaccination targeting vulnerable groups like children and women in order to reduce deaths linked to infectious and non-communicable diseases

Susan Nakhumicha, cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Health, said during the launch of World Immunization Week in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, that there are plans to upscale routine immunization coverage to 100 percent up from the current 80 percent.

"We must therefore put all our efforts together in reaching the last child, no one should be left behind," she said while clarifying that national immunization programs were resilient despite some headwinds facing the public health sector.

Nakhumicha stressed that the country has seen an overall improvement in vaccination coverage, noting that the goal was to ensure all newborn children were inoculated against killer ailments like tuberculosis and malaria.

She said the government has invested in supportive infrastructure like cold chain facilities, capacity building of health workers and public outreach campaigns to help realize universal immunization coverage. Kenya's health personnel have been encouraged to scale up vaccination campaigns targeting the elderly and citizens living with co-morbidities amid their vulnerability to fatal ailments.

She stressed that this year's national immunization week presents an opportunity to re-energize efforts to inoculate all infants, adding that adolescent girls who have received the vaccine against cervical cancer have recorded improved health outcomes.

Nakhumicha also said the government has intensified vaccination to help contain recurrent measles outbreaks in the country, adding that provision of the second dose of measles vaccine targeting children is in the works.

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