Children risk death as immunisation levels remain low

Elizabeth Chelagat

What you need to know:

  • Several children were not immunised
  • Those lucky to have been vaccinated did not complete the dosage
  • Although dispensaries were built, most of them are yet to serve the intended purpose

When the five-year-old girl was carried to Ring’o dispensary five days ago from Silale, more than 35km away displaying symptoms of pale eyes, swollen legs due to anaemia and seizures caused by acute malaria, it did not occur to her mother that lack of vaccination during childhood had contributed to her daughter’s weakened immune system.

Ms Katekon kirareng, from the remote Silale village had brought her severely ill daughter after suffering from malaria, a condition she has suffered every time there is an outbreak in the area.

The frail, weak and dehydrated girl was on a drip at the facility’s as a first aid after travelling for two days to access services.

The girl, at five years, had not been immunized since birth and according to the mother, has been sickly since she was born. “How can I travel tens of kilometers to bring my child for immunization which I am not even sure if I will get anyway? We only come here when the children don’t respond to the herbal medicine at home because of the distance you have to cover to reach the dispensary. All my five children were not immunized and though they fall sick, we have no option but to survive,” said Ms Kirareng.

Hundreds of children in the remote villages in Tiaty Sub-County are prone to infections with several below five years dying of curable diseases due to lowered immunity due to lack of immunization.

A spot check by the HealthyNation on villages revealed that several children were not immunised while those lucky to have been vaccinated did not complete the dosage as recommended by the Ministry of Health due to scarcity of health facilities, the nomadic nature of the locals and high illiteracy levels.

Delayed payment

In 2017 and 2019 for instance, more than 20 children in the remote villages in Tirioko ward died of an upsurge of malaria after walking for tens of kilometers to access a health facility.

In the affected area, the nearby Kongor dispensary stalled after the contractor protested over delay of payment. This is a facility which is expected to serve more than 20 villages with a radius of 50km.

Chepocheu Kalimreng, a mother of three had walked more than 45km from Nadome village to Akwichatis dispensary to seek services for her ailing two months old baby who was suffering from pneumonia and diarrhoea.

The baby had not received a single dose of immunization; a situation the health worker at the facility said had contributed to the illness, due to low immunity to fight infections.

Temke Machari
Temke Machari, from Nadome in Baringo County, waits under a tree at Akwichatis Health Centre.Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

“This is my third-born child and I delivered all my three children at home due to the long distance I have to travel to access a facility. All of them, including my 11-year-old boy were not immunized. We only pray God to protect them,” said Ms Kalimreng who had walked for three days to arrive at the facility.

She is among hundreds of mothers in the locality who only bring their children to the hospital when they are too sick. “Most children here are not immunized. You find that most of them only bring their sick children when their conditions have deteriorated and you cannot immunize them when sick. After that, they disappear until the child is unwell again,” Patrick Kwiaruk, a health worker at Akwichatis health center.

Source: Daily nation news

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