The Star (Nairobi)

12 November 2012

Kenya: Kavonokya Church Parents Arrested Over Measles Jab

Police in Kitui yesterday held two members of the Kavonokya sect who failed to have their children vaccinated against measles during the just concluded campaign.

The Lower Yatta district public health officer Faith Mutinda said the immunisation campaign team were met with stiff resistance from pupils at Mandu Primary School who refused to be vaccinated. The pupils said their parents told them the vaccination is against their religious beliefs.

Mutinda said she held a meeting with the parents and her attempts to persuade them to allow their children get the jab were fruitless. The two parents said their faith considered modern medicine as ungodly. "The sect members have threatened us for insisting that they should immunise their children. They claim the vaccination is satanic " Mutinda said.

They were also found to have neglected their children-- aged between four and 13 years--as none of them had been inoculated against other childhood diseases.

The Kitui police boss Lilian Okembo said the two parents would be charged with child neglect. She said they would also seek orders to have the children immunized.

Public health officials have been calling for a ban of the sect whose members refuse to take their children to hospital or have them immunized against such preventable diseases like measles and instead rely on the power of prayer to heal the sick.

Last year, 11 children all from families who ascribe to the Kavonokya faith died from a measles outbreak in Kanzui and Ngoo areas of Mwingi district.

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