KENYA: Bishops Urge Kenyans to Keep Away from Polio Vaccine, Until Confirmed Safe

NAIROBI, JULY 31 2015 (CISA) – The Conference of Catholic Bishops of Kenya (KCCB)has urged Kenyans not to participate in an upcoming Polio Vaccine campaign till tests are done to confirm the safety of vaccine.

In a press statement dated July 28 titled, The Truth will set us free: The safety of Kenyans must be assured; the bishops questioned the safety of the vaccines, saying the manufacturer failed to provide requested information and the government disregarded the bishops’ request for tests.

According to the statement the bishops had in a consultative meeting with the Director of Medical Services resolved that they take a joint sampling but this has not been done.

The bishops expressed concern at the casual manner in which, “legitimate concerns raised on behalf of Kenyans are being handled.”

“We have waited for joint sampling of the polio vaccines since April 2015 with no success.
We have similarly waited for the manufacturer’s declaratory information with no success yet millions of these doses are already in Kenya,” the bishops said.

The bishops quoted the recent case in which 30 children in Busia County were paralyzed after receiving injections of what is highly suspected to have had a problem.

“There was also another case where anti-malarial drugs, believed to be quinine meant for advanced treatment of malaria and already in use were confirmed to only contain paracetamol when the expected response was not forthcoming.”

“We are not in conflict with the Ministry of Health, but we have an apostolic and moral duty to ensure Kenyans are getting safe vaccines,” said Bishop Philip Anyolo, Chairman of the KCCB.

Unless safety is addressed, such cases will continue to happen, the bishops said.
The Ministry of Health has however defended the vaccination campaign saying it had consulted all stake holders, the Catholic Church included.

“Any attempts at mobilizing the public against taking their children for vaccination is a serious violation of the right of children to health and survival” said Dr. Nicholas Muraguri, Director of Medical Services in a press statement dated July 28.

Early this year, government and Catholic bishops came into conflict over a mass tetanus vaccination that targeted young girls and women.
However, both institutions reached an agreement for testing before, during and after vaccination campaigns.

“We are not fighting anybody, but we are saying let us determine our destiny. The moment things [vaccines] are formulated from outside and there are problems, it is our people who suffer. That’s why we are voicing this issue,” said Cardinal John Njue, the bishop of Nairobi.

Polio is a highly infectious viral disease that attacks the nervous system and can cause paralysis within hours of infection.

The disease mainly affects children under the age of five.

The Polio Vaccination Campaign, by the World Health Organization and UNICEF, is scheduled to start tomorrow August 1, targeting children under age 5 in 32 counties.

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