Crucial TB, meningitis vaccine to arrive on Friday

Children are at risk of getting TB because of their weak immunity.

Wednesday January 6 2016

Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu during his Ministry of Health divisions tour near Kenyatta National Hospital on January 5, 2016.

Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu during his Ministry of Health divisions tour near Kenyatta National Hospital on January 5, 2016. PHOTO | ROBERT NGUGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By EUNICE KILONZO
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An emergency supply of about 1.3 million doses of a vaccine protecting children from contracting tuberculosis (TB) and meningitis arrives on Friday.

The Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine ran out in November 2015.

The head of the Immunisation Technical Group at the Ministry of Health, Mr Collins Tabu, told the Nation that the vaccine would be distributed to hospitals countrywide “as soon as possible”.

“The shortage is an international crisis but we are handling it well. We will confirm the exact time the vaccine will be in the country and get back to you,” Dr Tabu said.

On December 30, the Nation highlighted the problem of the missing vaccine in Nairobi, Uasin Gishu, Mombasa and other counties and how that exposed about 3,500 babies born daily to TB and other infections.

At the time, Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu said the problem was beyond the government’s control but expressed optimism that the shortage would end and the vaccines arrive “in the first week of January”.

He added that nearly 4.7 million doses of the vaccine were procured in September through the United Nations Children’s Fund, but there were delivery delays.

According to the Unicef website, 180 million doses of the BCG vaccine were required in 2015 but only 107 million were manufactured.

Because children have weak immunity, they are usually at risk of getting TB.

Chances of infection increase if someone in the household is suffering from the bacterial disease.

It is difficult to diagnose the disease in children.

Kenya is one of 22 countries that collectively account for about 80 per cent of the global TB cases.

In 2012, Kenya reported 99,159 cases of the disease.

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