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Donors increase Kenya’s vaccination funding after coverage hits 15-year low

rubella vaccine
A health worker, gets the measles, rubella vaccine ready for injection to a child in Kabondo Kasipul, Homa Bay County. A surveillance by the Ministry of Health suspected measles and rubella had over 30 percent cases with over 90 per cent being children under 15 years. PHOTO | TOM OTIENO | NMG 

Donors have stepped up financing Kenya’s vaccination campaigns after the immunisation level sunk to a 15-year low in 2017 even as it appears that some counties have suffered more than others.

Donor support from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi) for vaccines against influenza, pneumonia, rotavirus and yellow fever has significantly increased.

Gavi data shows that support for the anti-pneumonia vaccine to Kenya is increasing from Sh348 million ($3.48 million) in 2018 to Sh1.5 billion ($14.41 million) in 2019. Under the New Vaccine Support, Gavi has approved its increased funding that amounts to $201.49 million over the last 10 years.

Under the co-financing payment for pneumonia vaccine, Kenya’s funds, which total $1.25 million, will be used to purchase 401,600 vaccine doses valued at $1.225 million. The cash will also help to procure 398,200 auto-disable syringes for immunisation and 4,400 safety boxes.

Currently, Gavi helps Kenya procure vaccines through a co-financing model, where Kenya pays for 10 per cent of the entire budget, while Gavi pays the remaining 90 per cent annually.

Gavi granted Kenya $183.61 million in pneumonia vaccines between 2009 and 2017.

The 2010 Economic Survey shows that pneumonia caused 19,508 deaths, overtaking malaria as the top killer in 2015. The Economic Survey reports show that the disease killed 19,011 in 2013, 20,000 in 2016 and 21,584 in 2017 making pneumonia the top killer ahead of malaria and cancer.

Funding for the influenza vaccine, which comprises five individual vaccines in one that aims to protect infants from five potentially deadly diseases, has also increased.

The vaccine protects children from Hemophilus Influenza Type B — the bacteria that causes meningitis, pneumonia and otitis, whooping cough, tetanus, Hepatitis B and diphtheria.

Gavi has budgeted $3.4 million for 2019 influenza vaccine from $1,447,500 last year bringing the total allocation to about $173 million since 2001.

Under the 2019 co-financing payment for the influenza vaccine, Kenya’s funds which total $385,400 will be used to purchase 434,500 vaccine doses valued at $295,192. The funds will also be used to procure 385,400 auto-disable syringes for immunisation and 4,250 safety boxes.

Kenya is expected to release its co-financing payments each year to Unicef, which is the procurement agency.

Gavi’s budget for rotavirus vaccine has increased from $4 million in 2018 to $5.38 million this year.

Gavi has since 2014 disbursed to Kenya $31,845,921 for the vaccine that fights the most common cause of severe diarrhoea among children.

Kenya will also be required to increase in 10 per cent co-financing from $305,500 in 2018 to $519,500 in 2019 which will be used to procure 250,500 rotavirus vaccine doses valued for $503,018.

Yellow fever vaccine support in 2019 from Gavi is $69,500 up from $44,000 in 2018. Kenya will increase its co-financing from $6,500 from $1,000.

Currently, there is a global shortage of yellow fever vaccines.

To prepare for the annual procurement of vaccines, Kenya is expected to submit in May each year the number of children to be vaccinated, the stock levels including buffer stock, wastage rates, any proposed changes in presentation or minimum co-financing levels and vaccines received.

In accordance with applicable Gavi processes, Kenya reported on vaccination programme and financial performance, which could have led to the increased funds owing to last year’s cut in the national immunisation coverage to a 15-year low of 63 per cent

The 2018 Economic Survey shows the coverage last year dropped by six percentage points from 69 per cent in 2016 and 76 per cent in 2013.

The 63 per cent is the lowest coverage since 2005 when it stood at the same level before rising until 2012.

The survey shows half of the children below one year in eight counties did not receive the compulsory vaccination, up from one — Mandera — that has since 2014 had the worst immunisation record among the 47 devolved units. Tana River, Wajir, Mandera, Isiolo, Samburu, Narok, Trans Nzoia and West Pokot are the counties where more than half of one-year-olds were not vaccinated.

Of the eight counties, it is only Mandera that recorded a marginal increase of 0.2 per cent from the 25.2 recorded in 2016.

Narok had the highest drop in coverage from 70.6 per cent in 2016 to 46.5 per cent last year, followed by West Pokot at 15 percentage points, Trans Nzoia (15 percentage points) and Tana River (15 percentage points).

Nyamira recorded a drop of 22.3 per cent to 66 per cent from the 89.1 per cent coverage a year earlier.