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Health NGOs decry immunization budget cuts

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Civil society organizations in the heath sector have decried what they say are cuts in the immunization budget lines which they blame for reported vaccine stock outs in parts of the country.

In a memorandum to the national assembly’s health committee chair, the civil society organizations attribute the unavailability of some vaccines to budget cuts for vaccines in the financial year 2023/2024 saying the new vaccine budget lines are likely to lead to more shortages, a state of affairs that could spell doom for the country’s efforts to avail life-saving vaccines to its citizenry.

According to Hennet Executive Director Dr Margaret Lubaale, it is imperative that parliament prioritize vaccines access and availability through proactive action to address the ongoing shortage.

In the petition,  the civil society organizations in the health space want parliament to Protect vaccines/ immunization budgets by filling up the funding gaps left by revised supplementary estimates in consultation with the National vaccines and Immunization program, provide strict oversight for timely release of immunization funds for procurement of vaccines – especially vaccines on stock outs besides obligating health Cabinet Secretary to give an update on the current level of stocks and the plans put in place to reduce the effects of stock outs and address outbreaks.

LVCT Health Program Manager Patriciah Jeckoniah says it was unfortunate that the country is reporting vaccine stock outs while they have been proven to be one of the greatest public health successes.

According to Stop TB Partnership Kenya Country Lead Eveline Kibuchi, the obtaining situation could turn out to be a crisis as there are already people who are missing critical services in about six counties with vaccines known to have improved life-expectancy in children under five and a case of measles already reported in Garissa.

“There is no way we are going to achieve quality healthcare if the most basic preventive measure is not available,” observed Kibuchi.

The petition from the civil society organisations coming as some Counties reported stock outs and shortages of supplies of childhood vaccines that include Rota Virus, oral polio vaccine and Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) that fights tuberculosis.



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