Measles outbreak claims three children in Pokot

The Standard, 20 September 2012: Three children have died and over 500 others infected following a measles outbreak in West Pokot County.

Health officials said the disease was spreading fast and feared the death toll could rise unless urgent measures are taken.

Pokot North District Health Officer Obadiah Singoei confirmed the three deaths.

Dr Singoei said blood samples have been taken to Kenya Medical Research Institute for analysis.

“Hundreds of children have been infected and the disease is spreading at an alarming rate in remote villages bordering Pokot-Turkana counties and Kenya-Uganda border,” said the MoH.

He said hardest hit areas in the district are not accessible due to rough terrain and lack of roads.

The MoH identified the most affected areas as Konyao, Alale, Kasei, Kanyerus and Ombolion location along Pokot-Turkana border.

Singoei said lack of funding has hindered vaccination campaigns against the epidemic that is threatening the lives of pastoralist children.

Shortage of funds

The disease, he said, broke out in villages in Alale Division before spreading to the neighbouring locations. Singoei said no vaccination has been conducted due to lack of funds.

He said the Government provided the vaccines but lacked money to mobilise health workers and transport to conduct the exercise in the vast district.

“We expected to conduct a mop up against the disease but we lack funds for logistics and we are appealing for financial support from humanitarian agencies such as Action Aid, World Vision and Unicef,” he said. Information and Communication minister Samuel Poghisio urged the Government to speed up vaccination to save lives.

The West Pokot immunisation coverage stands at 60 per cent while the national coverage is at 92.

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