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Doctor: Kenyan bishops could demand apology for vaccine drive

January 16, 2015
Francis Njuguna
Catholic News Service

NAIROBI, Kenya – Kenya’s Catholic bishops could demand a public apology from the government, following a revelation that some tested vials of the tetanus vaccine given under a nationwide campaign contained a hormone linked to birth control.

In November, the bishops charged that the vaccine, targeted to women of childbearing age and not to men, was being administered in a campaign sponsored by the World Health Organization and UNICEF that had been guarded by secrecy and deception.

The bishops said they suspected the vaccine contained beta human chorionic gonadotropin, or beta hCG, which prevents women from becoming pregnant. In November, a joint committee formed of church leaders, medical doctors, and the parliamentary Committee on Health agreed to test samples of the vaccine at laboratories around the world.

Preliminary test results, released Jan. 10, showed that three of 59 vials of the tetanus vaccine contained beta hCG. The others tested negative.

The results were included in a preliminary executive summary of the report of the joint Kenya Catholic Conference of Bishops and Kenyan Ministry of Health, along with a committee of experts on tetanus vaccine testing.

Dr. Stephen Karanja, chairman of the Catholic Doctors’ Association, who was preparing to address the nation’s bishops about the preliminary report, told Catholic News Service Jan. 13 that the bishops could demand a public apology from the government.

He said three contaminated vials “is quite a good number for the bishops to base their strong case on.”

At the height of the issue, the Kenyan bishops questioned why the national immunization campaign was aimed at women between the ages of 14-59 and also why the government was conducting this campaign when the bishops were not aware of a nationwide tetanus crisis.

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