30 November 2012

Kenya: Biometric Voter Registration Kit Cancer Rumour, Scares Voters

Photo: Capital FM
The BVR kits are expected to prevent the occurrence of double registration (file photo).

Rumours that the BVR kits can cause cancer have scared Mwakirunge slum dwellers from registering as voters, IEBC chairman Isaack Hassan has said.

He told the residents to ignore the rumours saying those spreading it want to sabotage the voters registration in the region.

Residents said the rumour, which surfaced soon after the start of the registration, has caused panic and fear.

"A rumor went round and most of them have refused to heed to the calls to register as voters. They say the machine sucks blood form their fingers and it can cause cancer," said Rose Kazungu, a residents.

Kazungu blamed the low turnout on lack of proper civic education by the IEBC.

"IEBC really failed on this. In slum areas, people are very sensitive and are proactive to such rumors when they occur," Kazungu added.

Kazungu added that similar problem emerged in the same area when ministry of health started distributing free nets to the residents. She said resident burnt the nets in the pretext that the nets had demons that disturbed them overnight.

According to Genesis for Human Rights lobby group programs officer Caleb Ng'wena, registration rate as at Monday, stood at 3 people per day since registration started.

Coast provincial director f medical services Dr. Maurice Siminyu allayed such fears saying that BVR kits could cause cancer.

"That rumor is not true. BVR kits are only used to penetrate and analyze human tissues just like x-ray machines to pick uniqueness of individuals," said Siminyu on phone.

Siminyu said that the possibility of BVR kits causing cancer was negligible since the machine is only used once unlike the x-ray machine that is used regularly on the human body.

"There is no way BVR could cause cancer and people should come out to register," said Siminyu.

South West Coast IEBC Regional coordinator Amina Soud also added that, the kits do no transmit any non communicable disease including cancer.

Amina said, "Our chairman Issack Hassan outlined clearly that the machines are human health friendly. Let them know that such machines can't be procured without understanding all health implications. That is wrong and I urge people to register."

Muslim for human rights lobby group officials also said that adequate civic education was needed in informal settlement to sensitize potential voters to participate the process.

"Thorough civic education will be very much important. IEBC should also carry along health experts to demystify the issue of BVR causing cancer," said Muhuri, rapid response officer Francis Auma.

This comes at the backdrop of hick ups that continue to mar the ongoing voter registration countrywide with low turnout in some parts with the BVR kits failing to function.

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