The Kenya Forum | Controversy Over WHO Tetanus Vaccine - The Kenya Forum

March 26, 2014


“The fact that this campaign only targets women shows that there is something fishy about it, otherwise even men and children should be vaccinated,”

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Controversy Over WHO Tetanus Vaccine

A campaign by the World Health Organization (WHO) to vaccinate women and girls of child bearing age in Kenya (between the age of 14 to 47 years old) has drawn controversy across the nation after allegations that the vaccine is laced with family planning drugs to control population.

The head of the Catholic Church in Kenya, John Cardinal Njue, came out publicly to condemn the vaccine and cautioned women against getting the jab.

“The fact that this campaign only targets women shows that there is something fishy about it, otherwise even men and children should be vaccinated,” he said.

However, experts in reproductive health matters in the country have differed opinions on the matter, some argue that the vaccine is safe for women and only targets them because they are the ones who get pregnant while another section concurs with cardinal Njue’s sentiments.

Tetanus is caused by the bacterium Clostridium tetani, the spores of which are widespread in the environment and according to UNICEF; “it’s an excruciating disease that kills one newborn every nine minutes, or approximately 160 babies each day. Typically contracted through unhygienic childbirth practices, the disease is swift, cruel and lethal.” 58,000 newborns died of tetanus in 2010 alone.

According to Dr John Ong’ech, a top specialist Obstetrician and Gynaecologist in Nairobi, who doubles up as the Assistant Director of Reproductive Health at the Kenyatta National Hospital, the tetanus vaccine falls under the WHO strategies to reduce infant mortality rates.

“Considering that majority of the births in Kenya occur at home, the campaign is critical and this particular campaign is what we call a Public Heath Approach which targets a vast population in order to eliminate a threat. It has been done worldwide not just in Kenya,” said Dr Ong’ech.

A significant number of women also die due to maternal tetanus every year thus maternal and neonatal tetanus remains a public health threat according to the WHO. The women and newborns most at risk are those living in areas scarred by poverty, poor medical infrastructure or humanitarian crisis and the majority of mothers and newborns dying of tetanus are reported to live in Africa and Southern and East Asia.

In the 1990`s the UN`s World Health Organization allegedly launched a campaign to vaccinate millions of women in Nicaragua, Mexico and the Philippines between the ages of 15 and 45 against tetanus.

The campaign was only targeting women and this raised the suspicions of a Roman Catholic lay organization, Comite Pro Vida de Mexico, who had samples of the vaccine tested. The tests revealed that the WHO Tetanus vaccine used to inoculate women of child bearing age contained human Chorionic Gonadotrophin or hCG, a natural hormone that is secreted in the initial stages of pregnancy, but when combined with a tetanus toxoid carrier stimulated antibodies rendering a woman incapable of maintaining a pregnancy.

In 1995, the Catholic Women`s League of the Philippines won a court order halting a UNICEF anti-tetanus program because the vaccine had been laced with B-hCG. The Supreme Court of the Philippines found the surreptitious sterilization program had already vaccinated three million women, aged 12 to 45. B-hCG-laced vaccine was also found in at least four other developing countries. (


Dr. Stephen Karanja, a consultant Obstetrician and gynecologist has warned Kenyan women to keep off the tetanus vaccination because it is dangerous to their reproductive health.

According to Dr. Karanja, the tetanus drug being administered to women is meant to produce antibodies against human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone that helps to keep the baby alive for the first seven days of pregnancy.

“The campaign has been done in other countries. The same organisation did it in Philippines and Mexico to reduce population. The country should know about it and not support this. There is nothing as dangerous as this vaccine”, he said.

Well, more light needs to be shade on the tetanus vaccine campaign going on in the country and samples taken just like in the Philippine case to ascertain its authenticity before Kenyan medics release official reports to the public, otherwise women might shy away from crucial vaccines in fear of sterilization.


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