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November 18, 2017

Politicians shouldn't mix politics with health issues

Principal Secretary for Health Nicholas Muraguri administers Tetanus vaccine to a mother during the national launch of Measles, Rubella and Tetanus vaccination in Narok County on May 17th, 2016
Principal Secretary for Health Nicholas Muraguri administers Tetanus vaccine to a mother during the national launch of Measles, Rubella and Tetanus vaccination in Narok County on May 17th, 2016

Raila Odinga’s comments in a televised statement on Monday that an anti-tetanus vaccine given to women in 2014 was laced with an agent to sterilize them were reckless.

If lives are lost to tetanus, Raila could be responsible, given the veneration he is accorded by his most ardent followers.

The World Health Organisation rejected Raila’s claims the same afternoon they were made, and stated that the vaccine had been used safely for almost two generations.

Raila tabled copies of reports from four laboratories that confirmed the vaccine was contaminated, including the University of Nairobi and medical journal the Lancet Kenya, none of whom have commented.

Making political hay out of mothers and newborns’ lives is mixing politics with important issues of health.

Raila and all other politicians should avoid holding forth controversially on issues that touch on real-life medical concerns.

They should issue no fears or other inhibitions where healthcare concerns are involved.

Joining hands with the Catholic Church on this issue makes it likely that many people will avoid the tetanus jab.

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