The Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Health has called on all stakeholders to prioritize the unvaccinated and under-vaccinated populations in the country as National Immunization Week 2023 kicks off.
The theme for this year’s campaign, “The Big Catch-Up,” aims to celebrate past achievements while forging ahead to ensure that all children in the country receive the necessary vaccinations.
During the launch of the Immunization Policy Guidelines 2023, the Cabinet Secretary applauded health workers and county leadership for their dedication to achieving an 80% routine immunization coverage, a slight improvement from 2014 despite significant changes in the health system, including devolution and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Cabinet Secretary emphasized the need for county governments to allocate resources for immunization operations, particularly in light of the upcoming transition from Gavi support in 2030. The primary health care system must be strengthened through innovative financing of health services, including immunization.
Although Kenya has made significant progress in improving access to immunization services, the Cabinet Secretary expressed concern about the increasing number of unvaccinated children at the county level. The Cabinet Secretary urged health workers to focus on increasing the coverage of the second dose of measles while also putting strategies in place for other vaccines.
The CS who was accompanied by the Principal Secretary State Department Medical Services, Eng Peter Tum and the acting Director General of Health Dr Patrick Amoth also stressed the importance of protecting girls against cervical cancer through HPV vaccination. “The vaccine is highly effective, and some counties have coverage rates below 20%. It is essential to work with key opinion leaders to dispel myths and misconceptions about the vaccine,” she advised.
Nakhumicha called on stakeholders to re-energize their efforts to reach the last mile, the last child, the last girl, and the last adult during National Immunization Week. She acknowledged the role of community health volunteers in reaching out to those who have missed out on vaccines and urged health workers to leverage their services to accelerate vaccination coverage.
The Cabinet Secretary also thanked partners for their support over the years and urged all stakeholders to work together to ensure the quality of immunization services and that populations are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Ministry of Health, Kenya.