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Health Ministry faults Catholic Church over tetanus campaign

29 October 2014, 19:04 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi – The Health Ministry has lashed out the Catholic Health Commission of Kenya (CHCK) claims that the ongoing national tetanus campaign targeting women from 15 years and above is meant for family planning.

The Health Principal Secretary, Khadijah Kassachon, confirmed to the National Assembly Health committee that the tetanus toxoid vaccine being administered is one used on routine basis and is safe.

“This is the same vaccine used in men particularly when they are exposed due to cuts and open wounds. The Ministry of Health is the only supplier of the routine vaccine in Kenya for all public, faith-based and private facilities,” said Kassachon.

“The vaccine used during this campaign is the same one in the health facilities including those ran by the Catholic Church, therefore is wrong for any organization or individual to claim that the ministry is using tetanus vaccine which is laced with human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone for family planning,” she added.

Also read: 9 Kenyans detained at JKIA for Ebola test negative

The PS argued that the HCG hormone has never been used as a family planning drug in the country instead it is used to stimulate ovulation, hence, a fertility inducing hormone.

The Tongaren MP, Eseli Simiyu, who is the Health committee member, blamed the Ministry for failing to issue a statement to counter the CHCK’s propagated claims against the tetanus campaign and urged it to sue the responsible propagandists.

“A section of the Catholic church against the tetanus campaign needed to be counteracted immediately through the media. The Health Ministry should use the Public Health Act provisions to arrest those propagating erroneous allegations against tetanus vaccination and judged. I don’t know what it is waiting for?” posed Simiyu.

The Nandi County MP, Zipporah Kering, said the CHCK’s anti-tetanus claims has affected the campaign because women are opposed to the vaccination hence posing high risk to counter and eliminating the preventable disease.

“The Ministry could have come out to elaborate on the purpose of the tetanus campaign in response to a section of the Catholic Church’s false information to the public. Mothers have stopped to be vaccinated because of the claims,” said Kering.

The committee’s chair, Rachael Nyamae, expressed her disappointment by the failure of the CHCK officials’ failure to appear before the committee after being summoned to prove the validity of their claims against the tetanus campaign.  

However, Nyamae, assured that the committee will summon the officials and the Ministry of Health to appear before it on Tuesday, November 4, 2014 to discuss the issue.  

The Health PS said the tetanus campaign is being administered in 16 counties which are considered to be at high risk of the disease. They include; Kilifi, Mombasa, Meru, Marsabit, Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Trans-Nzoia, Baringo, Turkana, West Pokot, Kajiado, Laikipia, Narok, Samburu and Uasin Gishu counties.

The PS revealed that districts at high risk of Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus disease has dropped to 60 out of 285 which is equivalent to 21% by 2014.

The national tetanus campaign was previously conducted in 2003, 2006 and 2009.

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