Thirty-two children in Kenya have reportedly died over the last nine months as a result of a major measles outbreak.
Kenyan Public Health and Sanitation Director Shahnaaz Sharif said that the epidemic began in refugee camps in the northeast but has since spread throughout the country. Sharif said there have been 767 confirmed cases of the highly infectious illness this year, according to Capitalfm.co.ke.
“The first cases were reported in north eastern and then in eastern province but it’s now in 217 districts out of a total of 285 districts,” Sharif said, Capitalfm.co.ke reports. “So very few districts remain unaffected; I would say that it’s virtually the whole country.”
The Kenyan government is planning to conduct a nationwide vaccination campaign in response. The campaign will begin in early November and target six million children between the ages of nine months and five years.
“We only have 85 percent coverage so 15 percent of our children are not immunized and as they get older the numbers build up to a critical mass,” Sharif said, Capitalfm.co.ke reports.
The campaign will also provide the vaccine for children up to the age of 15 who live in refugee camps.
“This is because most refugees coming from Somalia are usually not vaccinated hence putting our people at risk,” Sharif said, according to Capitalfm.co.ke.