The World Health Organization (WHO) has named Kenya as one of the African countries at risk of having measles outbreak.
The looming threat has been attributed to failure by parents to have their children immunized against the disease.
WHO warned that unless a massive immunization campaign is mounted in the country, there is a high chance of an outbreak of measles.
PARENTS RELUCTANT TO GET SECOND DOSE OF MEASLES
Children in the country had been getting a single dose of measles immunization at nine months until 2013 when the second dose of measles, which is given at 18 months, was introduced in a bid to eliminate the disease.
The second dose has however not been fully adopted by parents who have been reluctant to take their children back.
According to Dr. Collins Tabu, head of the Health Ministry’s immunization branch, the popular notion that vaccination ends at nine months has greatly affected uptake of the second dose.
“Parents are often reluctant to take their children to hospital when they reach two years, reducing the chances of health personnel interacting with the children,” said Dr Tabu.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease, which affects mostly children and is one of the leading causes of death among children.
The last measles outbreak in Kenya was in 2005 and 2006. It resulted in over 2500 cases and 24 documented deaths. In 2006, a nationwide supplementary immunization campaign for all children aged 9 to 59 months was carried out and 5 million children received measles vaccine and vitamin A (>100% of targeted population).
Plans are under way to introduce the measles-rubella (MR) vaccine in 2017 as part of the global plan to eliminate measles and rubella by 2020.
The measles vaccine, just like any other major ones in the country is given for free at all government hospitals and parents have therefore no excuse for failure to ensure that their children are immunized.