Nov 14, 2014

Kenya: Sect Hides Babies From Polio Jab in Tharaka Nithi

The Star
November 14, 2014
Dennis Dibondo

A religious sect that rejects modern medicine on Sunday hid their children so they would not receive polio vaccine .

After a stand-off lasting for hours, the area chief and Administration Police had to intervene to ensure the inoculation.

Mothers screamed and cried since they do not believe in conventional medicine, saying their children might die.

"We rely on God for protection. We do not need any medical intervention," one parent in the Kavonokia sect said.

The polio campaign targets 59,490 children under the age of five in Tharaka Nithi county.

Medical officer in charge Rose Micheni said medical workers left many homes in Kibunga and Kirocho villages after they found doors locked.

Upon return to one of the homes for confirmation, the workers heard the laughter of children playing inside the houses, she said.

"Parents of the sect had hidden their children in the farms and were monitoring the moves of the medical officers," Micheni said.

She said the sect members emerged after their attempt to prevent the kids from getting vaccinated was discovered.

They chased away the health workers and refused to unlock their houses, saying their children are healthy and do not need any medication, she said.
Micheni said she had to use police in the rest of the inoculation, as the group threatened to chase them away with dogs.

She urged community leaders to teach locals the importance of vaccinating their children at early age.

Micheni said the vaccination will not be derailed by religious beliefs.
"Diseases do not know what your religion is or your community's beliefs," she said. Micheni said the campaign is targeting 90 per cent of the child population.
"We'll ensure they all get the polio vaccine," she said.