News / Health

New Vaccine to Combat Infant Mortality in Kenya

Children play near a punctured water pipe in Nairobi's Kibera slums (File Photo)
Children play near a punctured water pipe in Nairobi's Kibera slums (File Photo)
Michael Onyiego

A coalition of non-governmental organizations has partnered with the Kenyan government to tackle the leading cause of infant mortality in the east African Nation.  

As Kenya strives to meet the Millennium Development Goals, one of the largest battles facing the east African nation is infant mortality. According to the United Nations Children's Fund, Kenya ranked 21st worldwide in infant mortality for 2008, with 128 deaths for every 1,000 children under five - nearly double the worldwide average, 65.

But on Monday Kenya, with help from a coalition of international NGO's,  has introduced free access to a new vaccine that will help target the leading cause of infant death in Kenya - pneumonia. Most children’s health initiatives target more publicized killers, such as AIDS, malaria and measles. But, as Kenyan Director of Public Health and Sanitation Shahnaz Kassam Sharif explains, pneumonia is actually responsible for more deaths in children under five than all three combined.

"Pneumococcal disease is responsible for around 30,000 deaths in a year in children under five in Kenya," said Sharif. "Most of those deaths occur in children less than two years of age. In fact, a majority of them occur in children less than one. It is the leading contributor to infant mortality rate in Kenya."

A vaccine to combat pneumococcus, which triggers pneumonia and meningitis, was first introduced in the United States in 2001. But the initial vaccine targeted only a small fraction of the 90 strains of pneumococcus, those most common in developed nations. This new version of the vaccine targets strains more prevalent in developing nations and can protect against more than 70 percent of the cases seen in Africa.

Through this new Kenyan initiative the vaccine, which costs nearly $200 per child, will be administered free of charge to children under one year old by Kenya’s public health sector.

According to World Health Organization country Director Abdoulie Jack, the introduction of the vaccine could mark a turning point in the fight against infant mortality.

"Today is a very important day for Kenya and for the world," said Jack. "Here today we are marking the merging of a problem with the availability of tool, an intervention tool which can make a big difference in the lives of the children here and elsewhere."

Kenya is the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to publicly administer the pneumococcal vaccine, but it is one of many 19 nations, worldwide, to receive the treatment as part of a multi-billion dollar initiative launched by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization.  The alliance consists of international organizations such the World Bank and the WHO as well as NGO's, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative.  GAVI is trying to raise money to fund vaccinations in 40 countries by the year 2015. Through the support of the alliance, Kenya has received around $40 million to combat pneumococcal disease in the next five years.

You May Like

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs