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Pilot phase of biometric vaccination system for Kenyan newborns goes live


The rollout of a biometric system to manage the vaccination journey of children below the age of five years in Kenya has begun on a pilot at a hospital in the poor Kinango sub-county ahead of a planned nationwide deployment.

This pilot comes after a clinical trial which researchers said was successful.

The technology, which was developed thanks to a tripartite partnership of the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri), NEC Corporation and the Japan Nagasaki University, is designed to make sure that children do not miss any stage of the vaccine process until they are five, reports Nation.

The system collects the fingerprints of newborns and voice biometrics of parents or caregivers for identification purposes. The data will also enable health personnel track the children’s vaccine schedules so they do not miss out on any dosage.

A project to ensure correct infant vaccination against HIV with biometrics in Kenya was described to Biometric Update in 2018 by Paul Macharia, who is among those spearheading the initiative for years.

The Nation notes the view of one Mishi Gulu who birthed her first child on the day the pilot was launched on May 11. She said despite her illiterate status, her baby would not skip any vaccine schedule thanks to the biometric tracking system.

Professor Elijah Songok, Kemri acting director, says the novelty is part of efforts of the Kenyan government to curb infant mortality in the country, which is also part of the country’s Universal Health Coverage objectives.

He says with time, the technology, which has been widely embraced by parents and members of different communities, will be introduced in more health facilities across other counties.

“Most of the deaths of our children occur below five years old, that is why we accept this technology. In this study we have 2,000 children,” says Songok as quoted by Nation.

Apart from the biometric child vaccination project, the Kenyan government in March said it was also partnering with NEC Corporation and the government of Japan to implement a biometric patients record system. The government of Belgium is also a partner in the project.

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