Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital has urged healthcare stakeholders in Kenya to step up efforts to restore immunization programs across the country.

The hospital has urged stakeholders to refocus its efforts on immunization campaigns to protect children from the growing risk of contracting deadly childhood diseases such as pneumonia, measles, diarrhoea, and polio.

Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Robert Nyarango, said: “Although we’ve known about their value for more than 200 years, the value of vaccines has been thrust into the limelight as we worked together to flatten the Covid-19 curve. In addition to the lives that can be saved through timely routine immunisation, there is great potential to reduce the disease burden on individuals, families and communities through savings on time, medical expenses, and productivity.”

Immunization is one of the most effective and cost-effective methods of improving public health outcomes. According to the World Health Organization, it saves up to 4 million lives each year. Unfortunately, a number of Kenyans continue to miss their vaccinations, resulting in 64,500 children dying each year, the majority of them from preventable causes, according to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

According to Ministry of Health data, immunization coverage has remained at 80 percent despite efforts to raise it to 90 percent through various programs. The COVID-19 pandemic has hampered efforts to increase immunization, with UNICEF reporting that at least half of the 129 countries with data reporting moderate to severe disruptions in childhood immunization services.

Marked between April 24th and 30th, the goal of Immunization Week is to strengthen immunization programs by raising awareness of the importance of every person’s (particularly every child and woman’s) need and right to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.