Preventing Diseases in Children through Immunisation at the Lewa Clinics
"A comprehensive vaccination programme is a cornerstone of good public health and will reduce inequities and poverty." World Health Organization.
Providing accessible, affordable and quality healthcare to neighbouring communities continues to be one of Lewa's key priorities. Through the Healthcare Programme established in 1997, Lewa shoulders the medical needs of close to 50,000 people. A key component of the programme is the Mother and Child Care Unit which runs at the four Lewa clinics (Lewa, Leparua, Ngare Ndare and Ntirimiti) to fill the gap in ante and prenatal care in the region, as well as the immunisation of children against debilitating diseases.
Every Wednesday is immunisation day, and mothers from the neighbouring communities bring their infants to the clinics to be vaccinated against life-threatening but preventable diseases such as pneumonia, polio, tuberculosis, measles and abdominal infections. The children are also given vitamin A to help prevent visual impairments.
"Before we began offering these services, the mothers would have to make trips to health centres in Meru and Isiolo, more than 40 kilometres from Lewa, and an even further distance when you consider that some travel from very remote communities," says Ezekiel Karino, Lewa's Healthcare Programme Administrator.
The demand for this service is high. Last year, a total of 810 children were immunised across the four Lewa clinics. In the past six months, our healthcare team has immunised an average of 209 children per month.
Children immunised at the Lewa clinics from January to June, 2016
The uptake has been very good, and the clinics rarely have cases of children who do not complete the immunisation. Vaccination begins at birth and ends 18 months later once the nurses administer the last vaccine against measles.
"It is extremely encouraging to see that in the past year, we have not had a case of a child suffering from an immunisable disease at the Lewa clinics. For example, polio or tetanus in children has not been recorded in over two years." Lewa Nurse Faith Kobia adds.
Lewa is committed to the continued provision of this crucial service which promotes a healthy community and clearly demonstrates the benefits of conservation through improved and accessible healthcare.
Additionally, the moral obligation is clearly outlined by WHO:
"Reducing global child mortality by facilitating universal access to safe vaccines of proven efficacy is a moral obligation for the international community as it is a human right for every individual to have the opportunity to live a healthier and fuller life." World Health Organization.