20 February 2018

My yellow vaccination card: Typhoid, Cholera, Tetanus-Diphtheria, Hepatitis A/B, Meningitis, Polio, Yellow Fever, etc

My vaccination list prior to my first visit to Kenya

Living in a country like Kenya requires a lot of vaccinations. Some need to be repeated after 2-5 years and some after 10 years. If one wants to remain healthy, it is important to stay current on all of them.

Six months later, I got the two final doses 

Even though it's rarely checked by airport authorities, carrying this yellow immunization card is required for traveling abroad. If someone doesn't have the required vaccines for certain countries, they can be refused entry.

There's a special section on the card for Yellow Fever

Travelers show their Yellow Fever cards to an airport authority [photo from internet]

The World Health Organisation (WHO) ruled in July 2016 that a single dose of the Yellow Fever vaccine is now valid for life with no booster shot required. Yellow certificates should clearly indicate that the validity is for the life of the person vaccinated. Yellow fever virus is mostly found in tropical and subtropical areas in South America and Africa. It is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of infected female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

My remaining immunization history over the past (almost) 17 years

Visiting developing nations can expose you to illnesses rarely seen in the United States. However, there are safe immunizations that help protect travelers from contracting such diseases. Some are routine, others recommended, and a few are required (depending on where exactly you'll be traveling). It's wise to talk to a doctor for specific advice to know exactly which vaccines you'll need, discussing such things as your itinerary details, general health, and previous immunization history. Additionally it's important to learn the scheduling, as some vaccines require multiple doses and/or require time to take effect before the travel date.  [information from internet]

I got another Typhoid vaccine on January 30th

Kenya scores poorly on access to clean water

According to the 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI), a biennial report by Yale and Columbia Universities, Kenya ranks among the bottom five countries in the world with the poorest access to clean water and sanitation. Kenya is at position 178 out of the 180 countries covered in the report.

The EPI report ranked Kenya at position 130 globally on environmental performance. All of the top ten laggards are located in sub-Saharan Africa, and the region is substntially behind the rest of the world in obtaining safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.

Besides being so critical to life, poor sanitation and lack of clean water are recipes for health and social havoc globally.

Kenya has in the recent path lost hundreds of lives in many urban areas across the country following cholera outbreaks and other water-borne diseases caused by the lack of access to clean water. In July 2017, at least 14 people died and over 400 were hospitalized across Kenya. Nairobi especially had several outbreaks of cholera. The Ministry of Health listed 12 counties (out of Kenya's total number of counties, 47) as being hotspots for cholera outbreaks. The Center for Disease Control listed 14 counties with active cholera transmission in the last quarter of 2017. Nairobi County was included on both lists.

Clean water and proper sanitation are key pillars for many Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) worldwide. Again, sub-Saharan Africa did no meet the target of Millenium Development Goals (MDG) for water and sanitation. Goal #3, Target 9, of the 2030 SDGs calls for countries worldwide to substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals plus air, water, and soil pollution and contamination.

The United Nations estimates that the number of people living in slums, often without access to basic services, could double to approximately 400 million people by 2020, putting even more pressure on these resources. It further estimates that 115 people die every hour in Africa from diseases associated with contaminated drinking water.

[Note: Typhoid and cholera are both transmitted through unsafe food and water, along with poor hand or body hygiene. Both diseases can be deadly, but are treatable with proper medicine if diagnosed in time.]

[excerpts from article in Daily Nation, published on 20 January 2018, the same day I got my latest typhoid vaccination]

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