PRESS STATEMENT BY THE CATHOLIC HEALTH COMMISSION OF KENYA – KENYA CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS ON THE NATIONAL TETANUS VACCINATION CAMPAIGN SCHEDULED FOR 13TH – 19TH OCTOBER 2014
Health service delivery forms an integral part of evangelization for the Catholic Church. As such, the role played through the Church’s health Apostolate in Kenya cannot be understated.
The Church has an extensive network of health facilities that include 58 hospitals, 83 health centers, 311 dispensaries and 17 medical training institutions. Our health facilities offer a wide range preventive and curative health services, including vaccination. The Catholic Church coordinates these services through the Catholic Health Commission of Kenya – Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB).
The Catholic Health Commission of Kenya, currently meeting at St Patrick’s Pastoral Center Kabula in Bungoma, with health facility managers from 24 Catholic Dioceses are deeply concerned about the following issues regarding the Tetanus vaccination campaign scheduled for of 13th – 19th October 2014:
- There has not been adequate stakeholder engagement for consultation both in the preparation for the campaign. The Catholic Church has not been engaged as members and participants of the Health Sector Coordinating Committee and in the respective Technical Working Group. This is despite previous promises by the Ministry of Health to be engaged as a key stakeholder.
- There has been limited public awareness unlike other related campaigns like Polio vaccination.
- There has been limited public information on the rationale with a background that has informed the initiative since we raised an issue in March 2014.
We are still keen on having the Ministry of Health give Kenyans adequate responses to the following key pertinent questions:
- Is there a tetanus crisis in Kenya? If this is so, why has it not been declared?
- Why does the campaign target women of 14 – 49years?
- Why has the campaign left out young girls, boys and men even if they are all prone to tetanus?
- In the midst of so many life threatening diseases in Kenya, why has tetanus been prioritized?
We are not convinced that the government has taken adequate responsibility to ensure that Tetanus Toxoid vaccine (TT) laced with Beta human chorionic gonadotropin (b-HCG) sub unit is not being used by the sponsoring development partners. This has previously been used by the same partners in Philippines, Nicaragua and Mexico to vaccinate women against future pregnancy. Beta HCG sub unit is a hormone necessary for pregnancy.
When injected as a vaccine to a non-pregnant woman, this Beta HCG sub unit combined with tetanus toxoid develops antibodies against tetanus and HCG so that if a woman’s egg becomes fertilized, her own natural HCG will be destroyed rendering her permanently infertile. In this situation tetanus vaccination has been used as a birth control method.
We retain that the tetanus vaccination campaign bears the hallmarks of the programmes that were carried out in Philippines, Mexico and Nicaragua. We would want to participate in ensuring that the vaccines to be administered are free of this hormone.
The Catholic Church acknowledges that maternal and neonatal care is imperative in prevention of death; the Church therefore maintains that adequate and clear information is provided to the general public to avoid misinformation and propaganda in regard to the vaccine. The sanctity of Life and the dignity of the human person must always be priorities in health care and the Catholic Church, in the absence of proper and adequate information will not shy away from raising moral questions on matters affecting human life.
Rt. Rev. Paul Kariuki Njiru
Chairman, Catholic Health Commission of Kenya – KCCB
Rt. Rev. Joseph Mbatia
Vice Chairman, Catholic Health Commission of Kenya – KCCB