A battle has been raging on between the Kenyan government and the Catholic Church for the past week or so over a planned, week-long Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Vaccination Campaign in the African country.
The campaign, designed to vaccinate 2.3 million women and girls of reproductive age between 15-49 years across Kenya, has received questions and criticism from the Catholic Church there.
The Kenya news source, The Star, reports the Church claims the vaccination campaign is a secret government plan to sterilize women and control population growth.
The Chairman of the Catholic Health Commission of Kenya, the Rt Rev Paul Kariuki Njiru says the government is up to no good saying, “We want to know if there is a tetanus crisis in Kenya, and, if so, why has it not been declared?
“Why should it target women between the ages of 19-49 years; why has it left out young girls, boys and men if they are all prone to tetanus?”
However, Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia says the tetanus vaccine will boost their immunity against tetanus disease and ensure both girls and women pass their immunity to their unborn babies.
“Let us vaccinate our girls and women against tetanus and protect our future generations,” Macharia said during the launch of the campaign in Nairobi.
A report in Coast Week notes that Kenya is among 29 countries in the world that have not achieved the goal of eliminating maternal neonatal tetanus as per the WHO assessment which was done in 2013.
According to UNICEF, tetanus is an excruciating disease that kills one newborn every nine minutes, or approximately 160 babies each day. Typically contracted through unhygienic childbirth practices, the disease is swift, cruel and lethal.
But it is also highly preventable. An affordable vaccine given to women of childbearing age can stop tetanus.