Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Polio outbreak sparks intensive campaign

An emergency campaign to deliver oral anti-polio vaccine to every child under five is in progress in the coastal region around Watamu, as Kenya health authorities try to contain an outbreak of polio.
Although the country has been considered polio-free for several years, an outbreak in refugee camps near the border with Somalia, 400k from here, has sparked an immediate and intensive reaction.
.As so many  refugees migrate to this coast, around Malindi and Watamu, looking for work, an emergency four-day campaign to administer anti-polio vaccine to the most  vulnerable sector, the under-fives, has swung into action.
Workers from the department of health have the huge task of delivering it.
The Happy House was one of the first places those working this district called, and all our under fives gathered in the small banda to take their turn, without a single protest.
Good as gold they waitied to receive drops of vaccine , before going back to play. 
The two health workers then left to move on to other children in the community.
Their job is far from easy, they are tasked to find  all under fives, which involves foot-slogging from door to door  in places where so many homes are off the beaten track and difficult to locate, to ensure no child is missed. They cannot rely on the media or schools to spread the news as there are many, many people, who have no access to TV, radio or newspapers and whose children do not attend school.
  Eradicating polio, which has such devastating and disabling effects on its victims, is   a global health challenge and our many friends in Rotary International have as a key objective of their own organisation too.
The immediate action by the Kenyan Government and Unicef to keep this outbreak contained is to be applauded and we are the Happy House were delighted to play our part.
*All our children are subject to a full immunization programme.The Under Fives are singled out for this campaign as they may not be yet fully protected.
Health a priority
Health at the Happy House is always on the agenda. On Monday, Uncle Billy and Auntie Libby took Peter, Paul and Samson to the clinic. Paul has a nasty skin infection around is right ear, and being identical twins, who like to do everything the same, Peter was showing early signs of having it too. They also have coughs and runny noses.
The doctor prescribed antibiotics - cream and orally- and Samson, after  being examined and tested for malaria (which proved negative)  was prescribed medicine to get him well again.
One question the doctor always asks of us is when a child has last been wormed. Infestations of intestinal worms are commonplace here.
We have our own deworming programme, and every child receives deworming medicine every three months which is successful in keep them away and providing basic good health.
The government dispensaries do provide free deworming medicine, but Uncle Billy said the wait to reach the top of the list makes it impractical for us to take advantage of it.
 Instead we choose to pay for this most basic of tools to give maintain our children's health.
Seeing how so many people suffer here, because they cannot afford to see a doctor or to buy medicine, is to witness the stark reality of poverty.
It costs lives.
Those of us who live in the UK or other  countries where healthcare is free, really don’t know how lucky we are.
We should all count our blessings.