Children at risk as vaccine shortage hits 10 provinces

 Children at risk as vaccine shortage hits 10 provinces

Hundreds of thousands of Kenyan children are missing crucial vaccinations due to a shortage of life-saving vaccines over the past two months.

Ten provinces are the hardest hit, with parents forced to travel long distances to neighboring provinces to seek these services.

The shortage has been caused by delays in payment and a reduction in the budget for the purchase and distribution of routine vaccines.

On Monday morning, at Baringo Referral Hospital, Estalina Lekalile joined dozens of parents who had taken their children for their routine childhood vaccinations.

Estalina had traveled 40 kilometers from the city of Marigat after being informed of the supply of DPT and rotavirus vaccines needed for her ten-week-old baby.

“Kuna moja alienda Pekera huko akapata tu sindano moja ya two and a half months hakupata ingine mpaka saa hii kama saa hii hiyo mwezi mbili na two weeks anapata moja alafu anarudi nyumbani tuna subiri mpaka next month kama tutapata tena,” Estalina said.

She explained that a mother had gone to Pekera alone to find a single dose of the vaccine she needed after two and a half months, and had to wait home until the following month before potentially receiving another dose.

Winnie Bore, the Chief Officer of Health in Baringo, confirmed the seriousness of the situation. “We do not have the tetanus diphtheria vaccine and the oral polio vaccine, but currently we are also almost short of the rota vaccine, BCG and other vaccines for which we have a limited supply,” she said.

A letter from the Council of Governors to the Ministry of Health revealed that provinces are struggling with dwindling supplies of six routine vaccines, putting hundreds of thousands of babies at risk.

The most affected provinces are Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet, Nyamira, Kilifi, Siaya and Migori.

According to documents obtained by Citizen TV, the shortage was caused by a significant cut in the budget of the Ministry of Health, which received only 1.2 billion shillings for the purchase of vaccines, compared to the annual allocation of 2.6 billion shillings.

This financial crisis has led to unpaid bills under the donor-supported co-financing model, with Kenya now in arrears of Sh4.5 billion.

The current vaccine supply is nearing a critical low, threatening a national stockpile within two months.

Lena Kosgey, head of the vaccination department in Baringo, expressed deep concern about the possible resurgence of preventable diseases.

“If we don’t get these vaccines for a long time, these diseases could return to our communities. That is our main concern now, but we hope that the national government will keep its promise because it said it will guarantee delivery. of vaccines by the middle of next month,” she stated.

The cuts mean Kenya could lose 6.5 billion shillings in donor support for vaccine procurement and immunization programs, jeopardizing the country’s goal of achieving self-reliance by 2030.