Ms Patricia Nyinguro

African continent challenged to improve their coordination regarding Climate issues

Irene Shone

Ms Patricia Nyinguro

Increased warming and associated impacts of climate creates new challenges and calls for improved coordination across governance levels.

This was recently said by Climate Scientist at Kenya Meteorological Department, Patricia Nying’uro at Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture (MESHA)’ s first media cafe on COP-27 meeting. Nying’uro says that it is important to invest on climate change issues.   “Investments are particularly needed in capacity development and technology transfer, as well as in enhancing countries’ early warning systems, including weather, water and climate observing systems,” she says.

She says some of implications of projections for Africa include: projected increases in frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation and flooding, mainly in South East Africa, projected decrease in mean precipitation Mediterranean regions of Africa in the North as well as Central & West Southern African regions, as well as projected increases in frequency and intensity of droughts. She further says that many parts of Africa are identified as global hot-spots of high human vulnerability to climate hazards, mainly in areas of high poverty, poor governance, limited access to basic facilities, violent conflict and high climate-sensitive livelihoods.

“The number of people that will continue to be at risk from adverse impacts of climate change will increase significantly in the absence of robust response measures as population growth interacts with climate change,” she explains. She adds that, this is estimated at 1.312 billion for 2020, 17% of world population projected to grow to 40% of the world population by 2100.

She further laments that there is also a threat of Health impacts in Africa due to adverse climate change.

“Infectious diseases continue to be noted, like the increasing incidence of malaria, cholera outbreaks, especially following tropical cyclones in East and, Southern Africa,” she shares, explaining that seasonal transmission of vector-borne diseases is expected to increase, exposing tens of millions more people.

There is also 44% of heat-related mortality noted from 1991 to 2018, attributable to climate change in South Africa, she says.  “Above 1.5°C global warming the risk of heat-related deaths rises sharply, with at least 15 additional deaths per 100,000 annually across large parts of Africa,” explains Nying’uro. As a result of climate risks and threats, there are losses and damages noticed at approximately 337 million people who were affected by natural disasters between 2000 and 2019 as a result of floods at 80% and droughts at 16% rate.

This she says also affects food security. She explains that, food insecurity increases by five to 20 percent with each flood or drought in sub-Saharan Africa. ” Climate Change has reduced economic growth across Africa, increasing income inequality between African countries and countries in more temperate climates,” she says emphasizing that,

Africa has seen increasing losses to agriculture, tourism, manufacturing and infrastructure.

Mohamed Adow, Director of Power Shift Africa, a climate think-tank based in Nairobi addresses journalists during the Pre-COP27 Africa Media Conference for African Environmental journalists in Kigali City, Rwanda on September 22, 2022.

Experts: COP27 in Egypt should correct climate injustices in Africa

Mohamed Adow, Director of Power Shift Africa, a climate think-tank based in Nairobi addresses journalists during the Pre-COP27 Africa Media Conference for African Environmental journalists in Kigali City, Rwanda on September 22, 2022.

As the world and private sector leaders prepare to unite for COP27, a climate think tank says this will present an opportunity to correct climate injustices in Africa.

The Director of Power Shift Africa, a Nairobi-based non-governmental organisation, Mr Mohamed Adow, said the global climate meeting to be held in El-Sheikh city in Egypt from November 6-18, comes at a time when climate change is affecting the availability of food, energy and is also threatening the stability of economies of many third world countries.

“As we head to the COP27 Africa is disproportionately affected by climate change and many parts of the continent like Northern Kenya are ravaged by extreme drought which has disrupted the livelihoods of millions of poor Kenyans,” said Mr Adow.

He was speaking during the three days Pre-COP27 Africa Media Conference for African journalists that ended at Kigali City in Rwanda on Friday.

The conference was jointly organised by Media for Environment, Science and Agriculture (MESHA), Power Shift Africa and Rwanda Media Commission (RMC).

The conference attracted more than 50 journalists from Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, and Ethiopia.

COP27 conference

“The COP27 conference in Egypt is a golden opportunity for Africa to come together and make a strong case for climate justice, and climate finance to access the much-needed financial resources to address a myriad of problems in the continent including famine to build a strong resilience system that communities can use to withstand climate change and adaptation,” said Mr Adow.

Mr Adow revealed that over 4 million Kenyans are facing severe drought, and lack of water and blamed the short-term solutions as one of the reasons that are exacerbating climate change-related challenges.

“What millions of Northern Kenya residents and other parts of Africa require is an investment that will help build resilience to help them be self-reliant and plan for future climate challenges,” added Mr Adow.

 

At the same time, Mr Adow said he was impressed by President William Ruto’s powerful speech at the United Nations Governing Council Assembly meeting in Washington where he committed to lead Africa to address key unique climate change challenges.

“After President Ruto’s speech we now need to hold him responsible for what he said so that he delivers for Kenya and entire Africa particularly on climate finance to deal with losses and damages that impact millions of people across the continent,” added Mr Adow.

“Unless we make a strong case of loss and damages, and climate finance there is no way we’re going to deliver justice for the poor residents of Africa who are ravaged by the climate challenges,” said Mr Dow.

According to Mr Adow Africa is home to about 17 per cent of the global population and accounts for less than four per cent of global emissions.

“Africa accounts for less than 0.15 per cent of global emissions yet we’re the ones who are badly affected by climate change. We suffer the most largely because of emissions from rich countries who are heavy emitters,” he explained.

Heavy emissions 

The official said the heavy emission by rich nations means they should bear the biggest responsibility and that would translate to climate justice.

“The developing countries are the main polluters and as they are prospering they are not bearing the cost of emission that is affecting the rest of the world.

“We require transition to renewable energy so that we [Africa] can be able to contribute to the solutions that the whole world requires to combat climate change which is the greatest enemy on the planet,” said Mr Adow.

Mr Adow noted that the only effective way to tackle the threat of climate change is for the world to come together and share efforts on the basis of responsibilities and capabilities.

“The rich nations owe the rest of the world a huge climate debt in the form of mitigation and adaptation. It is now the time for rich nations to help the poor nations offload the heavy debt burden so that they can survive climate change threats,” he concluded.

fmureithi@ke.nationmedia.com

Mohamed Adow

Campaigners vouch for climate justice

By Aghan Daniel I aghandan09@gmail.com

The fight against climate change will not be won unless climate justice is put at the centre of all negotiations, an advocate has said.

According to Mr Mohamed Adow, Director of Power Shift Africa, a Nairobi-based non-governmental organisation, the international showpiece to be held in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt from November 6-18, comes at a time when climate change is affecting the availability of food, energy and is also threatening the stability of economies of many third world countries.

“As we go to the COP27 Africa is disproportionately affected by climate change and many parts of the continent like Northern Kenya are ravaged by extreme drought which has disrupted the livelihoods of millions of poor Kenyans,” said Mr Adow.

He was speaking during a two day Pre-COP27 Media Conference for African journalists that ended at Kigali in Rwanda last Friday.

The conference was jointly organised by the Media for Environment, Science and Agriculture (MESHA) which is Africa’s leading science media association, Power Shift Africa and Rwanda Media Commission (RMC). About 60 journalists from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Malawi, South Africa, Egypt, and Nigeria attended the pre-COP conference.

For starters, human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes

in every region across the globe. Evidence of observed changes in extremes includes heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and tropical cyclones.

Experts say that Africa has the greatest number of climate change vulnerability hotspots more so in the East African region.

Further, Africa’s green house gases (GHGs) emissions are rising as countries develop. This raises issues of just transition, historical responsibility among others.

Increased warming and associated impacts creates new challenges and calls for improved coordination across governance levels. Scientists add that investments are particularly needed in capacity development and technology transfer, as well as in enhancing countries’ early warning systems, including weather, water and climate observing systems.

“Many parts of Africa are identified as global hot-spots of high human vulnerability to climate hazards, mainly in areas of high poverty, poor governance, limited access to basic facilities, violent conflict and high climate-sensitive livelihoods,” says Ms Patricia Nyinugurio, Kenya focal point at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“The number of people that will continue to be at risk from adverse impacts of climate change will increase significantly in the absence of robust response measures as population growth interacts with climate change,” adds Ms Nyinguro, a climate scientist who works at Kenya Meteorological Department.

In terms of losses and damages, Ms Nyinguro noted that approximately 337 million people were affected by natural disasters between 2000-2019 – floods 80% and droughts 16%  with nearly 6 million people displaced by weather-related disasters between 2018-2019. More depressing is the fact that 46,078 deaths were reported from weather-related disasters between 2000-2019 with this being the largest number of mortalities associated with floods since 1990.

In an apparent reference to the above damning statistic, Mr Adow had this to say, “The COP27 conference in Egypt is a golden opportunity for Africa to come together and make a strong case for climate justice, and climate finance to access the much-needed financial resources to address a myriad of problems in the continent including famine to build a strong resilience system that communities can use to withstand climate change and adaptation.

John_Kerry_portrait_of_Climate_Envoy

Kerry’s ‘tired rhetoric’ upsets Africa climate champs

By Aghan Daniel I aghandan09@gmail.com

John_Kerry_portrait_of_Climate_Envoy

US climate envoy John Kerry has inadvertently provoked the ire of African environmental activitists who claim his rhetoric downplays the dangers of climate change on the continent.

The campaigners slammed Kerry, President Joe Biden’s Special Climate Envoy for his ‘minimalist’ approach which they believe exposes a lack of comprehension of the magnitude of what’s in store for Africans from the vagaries of climate change.

In a petition seen by Sayansi Magazine, activists responding to a speech delivered by Kerry at the resumed 18th session of the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) taking place in Dakar, Senegal.

Coalescing under the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), the groups  drawn from diverse backgrounds and in 40 plus countries and sectors said the US Climate Envoy chose to play with “semantics” and termed his presence at AMCEN as a ‘public relations gimmick’ which they noted is characteristic of the US government.

“Africa is disappointed that John Kerry came to AMCEN without coming out strongly to deliver a bold commitment that would offer hope to families in the Horn of Africa, Sahel and the rest of Africa whose livelihoods have been turned upside down by a problem they have very little to do with,’ said Mithika Mwenda, the Executive Director of the PACJA.

In his speech during the AMCEN, Kerry denied that the West and developed nations bear responsibility on climate change and urged every country to bear the burden of its impacts. 

The US climate envoy had rubbed Africans the wrong way by stressing the need for mitigation while they tend to favour a focus leaning towards adaptation.

According to Mamadou Barri, an activist from Senegal, Africans had expected Kerry to commit to supporting its agenda for the 27th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change set for Egypt in November. “Chief of our agenda in COP27 is recognition of Africa as a region of special circumstances and circumstance,” he said.

Mithika noted that for the last eight months, since the beginning of the year, African CSOs have conducted several consultations among themselves and governments, both formal and informal, and have identified critical “no-go zone areas” in engaging with the global community in COP27, the boundary through which the negotiators should not pass.

“A COP in Africa, undoubtedly, should recognize what has united all of us; special needs and circumstances on the continent that personify the impacts the climate crisis has condemned on humanity,” said Mithika.

Mithika said African CSOs consider it a mockery to the people on the continent when a top US diplomat spews out what Africans have heard over the years without telling them why his country continues to churn out tonnes of carbon emissions across the Atlantic and on its failure to honour its commitments on climate finance.

“Kerry’s mere recognition of the “climate crisis facing the African continent” is just a tired rhetoric which we hardly want to hear,” he said.

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Greenpeace seeks “long term solution to keep plastic out of Africa”

By Aghan Daniel I aghandan09@gmail.com

Greenpeace Africa activists are urging Africa’s environment ministers to keep plastic pollution out of the continent.

The resumed 18th session of the AMCEN is taking place in Dakar, Senegal from 12 to 16 September 2022 under the theme: “Securing people’s well-being and ensuring environmental sustainability in

Africa. AMCEN is expected to craft an African position on an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution including in the marine environment – as adopted by the UNEA 5.2 resolution in March 2022.

“As Africa’s environment ministers meet in Senegal this week, we hope to see them adopt a progressive and ambitious plan to free our communities of plastic pollution. Our continent has an opportunity to present a united front towards a legally binding global plastic treaty and close the doors of Africa to those seeking to dump their plastic waste on Africa’s soil,” said Greenpeace Africa’s Oceans & Plastic Campaigner, Awa Traoré.

Plastic pollution remains a global crisis, but Africa, according to the statement has the added burden of plastic waste dumping.

Countries in the Global North are scrambling to find nations in Africa to ship their plastic waste as evidenced in the recent past when the American Chemistry Council was lobbying to undermine Kenya’s anti-plastic laws to dump plastic and use Kenya as a gateway to flood Africa with plastic waste, reads part of the statement

It said that the proponents of single-use plastics are pushing for more plastic production and exportation into Africa. This could undermine progress made by countries to ban single-use plastic products and combat pollution.

“We hope that our ministers will use this opportunity to strengthen cooperation among governments across Africa and together forge a strong support for the global plastic treaty to finally turn off the plastic tap for the sake of our communities, our climate and our continent,” Traoré said.

 

Latest estimates by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) indicate that most of Africa’s rural towns and burgeoning cities, rivers and coastlines are increasingly becoming heavily polluted with discarded plastic packaging and other plastic waste.

Africa generated a total of 25 million tonnes of plastic waste in 2020, of which 20 million tonnes were mismanaged, it said.

 

Ms Patricia Nyinguro

Threats of climate change in Africa explained

By Aghan Daniel I aghandan09@gmail.com

Ms Patricia Nyinguro

Africa has the highest number of climate change vulnerability hotspots leading to increased losses in agriculture, tourism and the manufacturing sectors, a scientist has said.

While addressing a science media café cum preparatory meeting organised by the Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture, Patricia Nying’uro challenged reporters to continuously highlight these issues to save the globe.

Ms Nyinguro, a climate scientist who works at Kenya Meteorological Department, and doubles up as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Focal Point for Kenya noted that other diverse implications of the phenomenon have been responsible for reduced economic growth across Africa, increasing income inequality between African countries and those in more temperate climates.

She stressed that Africa as a continent with a lot of challenges need to come up with urgent African led solutions to deal with these climate change problems.

“Climate change has great impacts on our health, ecosystem, water security, food security. These are some of climate change issues to be discussed during the COP-27 in Egypt,” she said.

Senior science journalists Mr Otulah Owuor and Science editor Zeynab Wandati, who made presentations at the cafe, asked journalists across Africa to be on the alert of the discussions on COP-27 and report on climate change issues in their countries and globally to influence policy change.

Prof Walter Jaoko, the director of Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative speaks during a Science Media Café organised by the Media for Environment Science, Health and Agriculture in Nairobi on September 9, 2022.

Prof Walter Jaoko: How Africa can prevent the next pandemic

Prof Walter Jaoko, the director of Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative speaks during a Science Media Café organised by the Media for Environment Science, Health and Agriculture in Nairobi on September 9, 2022.

African governments are not prepared to tackle the next pandemic, a professor of medical microbiology and tropical medicine at the Kenya AIDS Vaccine Initiative (KAVI) has warned.

Prof Walter Jaoko, the director of KAVI and former Department of Medical Microbiology at the University of Nairobi chairperson, said the level of epidemic preparedness in the continent is at its lowest.

Speaking during a Science Media Café in Nairobi on Friday organised by the Media for Environment Science, Health and Agriculture (MESHA), he said the Epidemic Preparedness Index paints a grim picture of disaster management in Africa.

“We know the next epidemic will come and the question is whether we are prepared. Epidemic Preparedness Index is a tool used to try and determine how prepared countries are. The tool shows that most African countries are not prepared,” said Prof Jaoko.

Jaoko, who has over 30 years of experience in teaching and research in various aspects of infectious diseases transmission, pathology, treatment, prevention and control, noted that one of the biggest impediments is the lack of adequate funding.

“African governments need to set aside enough funds to prepare for the next pandemic. They need to set up national public health institutes that can plan and organise how to handle the next pandemic,” added Jaoko.

African Union

He added: “African governments need to work closely with the African Union (AU). The AU has a mechanism through the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which will give them guidelines and tools on what needs to be done as we wait for the next pandemic.”

“We need to have health care workers that are well trained for epidemic preparedness. We also need to strengthen our public health institutes and care facilities by equipping them well with equipment and drugs,” he added.

He observed that in 2001 the Abuja Declaration called upon the African Union member countries to commit to health system preparedness by allocating at least 15 per cent of their annual budgets to the health sector. 

Kenya’s 2022/2023 overall budget estimates of Sh3.31 trillion gave health its biggest allocation ever of Sh146 billion which translates to about 4.41 per cent of the total budget.

In the last financial year of 2021/2022, the health budget was allocated Sh121.1 billion.

However, this massive budgetary allocation still fell short of the Abuja declaration even as Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reminded countries to increase their investments in the health sector.

 
“There is enough evidence health spending is an investment, not a cost. Health is not a luxury, but a human right; not simply an outcome of development, but the foundation of social, economic and political stability and security,” said Dr Tedros.

Prof Jaoko reiterated that health is a major component of any nation’s development.

“Without a healthy population, a country will record a zero development record.”

He called upon the African governments to fulfil their commitments by increasing the health sector budgets as per the Abuja Declaration signed 21 years ago. 

He said, with the current harsh economic conditions in Africa, the level of funding by African governments may not easily be fulfilled.

However, he urged the African governments to collaborate with other stakeholders and form Private Public Partnerships and commit some money which is topped by the private sector.

“Private sector has a keen interest in health because they are also major stakeholders as they would like to have a healthy workforce to meet their objectives to prepare adequately to fight future epidemics,” he said.

Address corruption

Prof Jaoko called on African governments to address corruption that has led to the embezzlement of billions of shillings in the health and other sectors.

“African governments should put in place mechanisms to ensure the health sector money is safe and secure,” he added.

On African researchers, Prof Jaoko said the continent has a huge potential for research and development but the lack of funding by the African governments remains a major hindrance.

“A lot of research happening in Africa is funded by bilateral partners. It is only South Africa that has set sufficient funds to boost research in their country.”

He said the National Research Fund Kenya is grossly underfunded and is not working well.

“I urge the government to become a little bit more serious and pump in more funds for research as we have a pool of researchers in Kenya willing to conduct various types of research in the health sector,” he said.

fmureithi@ke.nationmedia.com

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Climate change: Africa’s minimal gas emissions call for funding

By Aghan Daniel I aghandan09@gmail.com

Africa accounted for just 2-3% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions but paid highly for the continent warming up faster than the global average – as urgent funding is needed to slow down the effects of the current climate change phenomenon, a UN World Meteorological Organisation report warned on Thursday.

In its just released report titled “State of the Climate in Africa 2021,” the UN agency said that last year Africa was one of the top four hottest spots on record.

This was why African countries were  demanding from richer, polluting nations to stump up more money for adaptation projects on the continent, the report added, and offer compensation for climate change-linked losses, topics that are expected to be in focus at COP27, the November UN climate summit in Egypt dubbed ‘the African COP.’

The WMO said the need for more investment in climate adaptation was crucial, estimating that climate impacts could cost African nations US$50 billion per year by 2030, with droughts and floods the top concern.

Africa has already seen seas rise one millimetre faster per year than the global average, worsening the threat of severe coastal flooding, the report said.

The report referred to increasingly disrupted rain patterns that have led to the worst drought in the Horn of Africa in more than 40 years – “and devastating floods that are hitting other parts of the continent more and more often.”

South Sudan recorded its worst floods in 60 years last year with over 800,000 people affected, while Chad this year saw its most rainfall in over 30 years as it and many other countries in central and western Africa battled seasonal floods, according to the UN agency.

Scientists said extreme heat and heavy rainfall have been made worse by human-caused climate change and would only increase in severity and frequency as the world continued to warm.

To improve African countries’ resilience, “it is imperative for the continent to accelerate efforts to establish robust regional and national early warning systems and climate services,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said. 

 

Some of the avocados packed for the export market in China. (Credit_ Tebby Otieno)

Kenya’s first batch of fresh avocados land in Chinese market 26 days after departure

By Tebby Otieno tebbyotieno62@gmail.com

The first batch of Kenya’s fresh avocado exports has finally landed in the Chinese market.

The arrival comes 26 days after Industrialisation, Trade and Enterprise Development Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) David Osiany flagged off a lorry with fresh avocados from the Sunripe export farm in Limuru, Kiambu County.

In a press statement by Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency (KEPROBA), the official handover ceremony was graced by Kenya’s Ambassador to China Muthoni Gichohi in Beijing.

The entrance of the fresh avocado into the Chinese market also marked the first export of such fruits from Africa.

Amb Gichohi applauded the efforts made by the two governments and affirmed Kenya’s commitment to supporting the business communities in both countries as they look forward to enhancing trade facilitation as well as market access to their products and services to China.

Other fresh prioritised agricultural products the two countries aim to fast-track for export clearance include legumes, flowers, vegetables, herbs, mangoes, peanuts, meat, hides, skins, bixa, gum Arabica and myrr.

Also read: https://meshascience.org/farmers-roll-their-sleeves-as-kenya-flags-off-its-first-batch-of-fresh-avocados-to-china/

KEPROBA’s Chief Executive Officer Wilfred Marube described the Chinese market as a big win for Kenya.

“China has the potential to pull Kenya’s economic growth through one export of avocado. The factor endowment for production favours Kenya. With the high population, exports to China will additionally increase foreign exchange earnings as well as youth and women employment,” Dr Malube said.

 

He urged Kenyans to popularise avocados and satisfy the Chinese market, noting that by so doing, many people’s lives will be improved.

 

“Kenya aims to export over 100,000 tonnes of avocados. The 1.4 billion population in China is a huge market for Kenya not only for avocados but also for other fresh produce such as mangoes and bananas,” said Dr Marube.

 

KEPROBA is a State corporation established after the merger of the Export Promotion Council and Brand Kenya Board. Its mandate is to implement export promotion and nation branding initiatives and policies to promote Kenya’s export of goods and services.

 

Kenya is currently the world’s sixth largest producer of avocados and the largest in Africa. The fruits are mainly grown by small-scale farmers.

 

The export of avocados to China has huge potential and experts estimate that the exports could account for up to 40 per cent of Kenya’s total avocado output. The market opportunity is also very huge as close to 400 tonnes can be shipped each week.

 

 

 

Joan Wasike, County Laboratory coordinator, Bungoma, western Kenya, receives her booster vaccine at the launch. Looking on are County Health Services Director Dr Johnstone Akatu and Health Executive Dr Anthony Walela.  Photo Credit: Gabriel Ingubu.

County of Bungoma launches 10-day campaign to upscale COVID-19
vaccination

By Gabriel Ingubu

Joan Wasike, County Laboratory coordinator, Bungoma, western Kenya, receives her booster vaccine at the launch. Looking on are County Health Services Director Dr Johnstone Akatu and Health Executive Dr Anthony Walela. Photo Credit: Gabriel Ingubu.

Kenya’s Bungoma County has launched a rapid results initiative to administer over 170,000  COVID-19 vaccine doses in 10 days.

Speaking during the launch, county Health Executive Dr Anthony Walela asked all the stakeholders in his department and the elite from the county to be good ambassadors of the vaccination programme by encouraging other residents to take the jab.

“So far our county stands at 32 per cent in vaccine uptake yet for us to be declared safe it should be 80 per cent,” said Dr Walela.

The county  is listed among 24 others  that are high risk areas, yet its vaccine uptake is still very low. “ 

Data obtained from the Health Department indicates that 577,032 people have taken the first dose and only 224,500 have taken two doses.

“I would like my health team to be pro-active enough so that we reach the 352,532 yet to receive their second dose,” said Dr Walela.

Bungoma is considered a hotspot for COVID-19 infections because of long-distance truck stopovers at all markets along Eldoret-Malaba road, which leads to Uganda with Bukembe and Kanduyi being the busiest.

The initiative comes amid calls on journalists to use all platforms available to increase awareness among pregnant women to take the jab.

 

Speaking during a cross-border science café organised by MESHA and AVACon July 6, 2022, Jean Nachega, Associate Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases, Microbiology and Epidemiology at Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh University, emphasised that pregnant women reduce their immunity, especially during their last trimester, so protecting them should be given a priority.

According to Bungoma County Director of Health Services Dr Johnstone  Akatu, 171 teams of three people each have been sent on an outreach mission across the county to administer the vaccine at health facilities, worship centres, and at strategic places like government offices.

“Research on COVID-19 is still ongoing. Recently we were giving the vaccine to those aged 15 years and above and now we can administer the vaccine to children from the age of 12 years upwards,” said Akatu. He also urged his staff to keep testing, saying that in the second week of July, 98 people tested positive, yet many people have relaxed their guard against the infection.

At the launch of the initiative, 16 people were vaccinated within one hour.

Among the counties enlisted to participate in the programme are Baringo, Bungoma, Busia, Elgeyo Marakwet, Embu, Homa Bay, Kituyi, Kajiado, Kericho, Kisii, Lamu, Makueni, Meru, Migori, Mombasa, Murang`a, Nandi, Nyamira, Trans nzoia, Turkana, Nyandarua, Samburu, Tharaka Nithi and Uasin Gishu.

If the counties realise their targets within the 10 days, it will be a boost for the national government to reach its target of vaccinating 25 million people by December 2022.