Four years ago, the death of a baby sent some Kenyans scurrying off to the government for vaccines against three new diseases: polio, measles and rotavirus. Although the vaccines were government-subsidized, health workers had to demand cash up front to get people immunized, in a chaotic process riddled with corruption.
But now, the number of babies in need of vaccinations has declined by 90 percent and Kenyans are happy to pay. Many take their children to coffin makers, who now appear to be the main beneficiaries of the vaccination campaigns. Their trade is booming: the younger generations are dying and retiring while Kenya grows old.
“We are very busy,” said Abraham Otieno, a manufacturer at the hectic Nairobi coffin factory. “I have never worked like this before. More and more Kenyans are getting pregnant. It’s hot and loud and yet we have good things to sell.”
Yusuf Abdullahi, the country’s chief medical officer, says that creating jobs is an important reason why officials have reversed their decision to end the vaccination programs.
“We realized that there is a good reason why Kenyans have expressed concern that they don’t want the vaccinations,” he told The Times. “After our consultations with different stakeholders, we have decided to provide the full range of doses on a ration.”