In Summary
  • The tetanus infection enters their bodies through the wound of the navel, which remains fresh for a number of days after birth. 
  • The concern of many doctors is based on the fact that the WHO/Unicef-sponsored tetanus immunisation campaign launched last year in October uses a vaccine that was imported into the country specifically for this purpose, and bears a different batch number from the regular tetanus toxoid.
  • It is a matter of trust. The solution is simple, but requires from all sides a little token of humility and the capacity to back-pedal.

There are people whom I cannot understand when they communicate. This difficulty can also apply to situations, and the one described below is one of them.

Who am I to question WHO, the World Health Organization ? When it comes to science, I’m a lay person.

As a matter of fact, a huge percentage of lawyers chose law to avoid biology, chemistry, physics or any combination of them. So I'll not pretend to go into this week’s ugly scientific debate on the tetanus vaccine.

On one hand, an association of doctors advised the Catholic bishops (luckily 'Prophet' Bishop Victor Kanyari was not among them) to reject the on-going WHO tetanus vaccine campaign.

On the other hand, the director of medical services of the Ministry of Health has accused his colleagues and the bishops of utter ignorance and sabotage. The debate has spilt out of the medical into the media realm.

This week I have received an unusual amount of email from both sides of the divide; from doctors supporting the WHO vaccine and from those opposing it. I will try to look at it from a sober, legal and human perspective.

Dr Osur explains that tetanus is a serious bacterial disease that causes the deaths of thousands of people annually. In 1990, tetanus caused 272,000 deaths worldwide, while in 2010, an estimated 61,000 people died.

The decrease in deaths is attributed to more people getting the tetanus vaccine. Deaths are more common in developing countries, where immunisation levels have remained relatively low.

The infection enters their bodies through the wound of the navel, which remains fresh for a number of days after birth. It is especially common where women deliver at home under unsterile conditions.

In Kenya, home deliveries are still common; in fact in some counties over 75 per cent of women deliver at home, and their babies are at risk of being infected with tetanus.


Dr Osur assures that the tetanus vaccine has no effect on the fertility of a woman. Claims that the vaccine affects a woman's ability to bear children are unfounded and it is not clear whom they benefit since both the church and the medical fraternity would want to protect women and their children from dying from tetanus and other preventable diseases.

This means that there are some clear facts. Tetanus kills and vaccination is a must. This seems to be agreed on by all, or at least it should be. Why then does such controversy arise?

In 1993, WHO reported the development and experimentation of Fertility Regulating Vaccines (FRVs).

In this report of limited circulation (WHO/HRP/93.1), WHO says that “the most advanced research of FRVs involves vaccines directed against the hormone hCG (human Chorionic Gonadotropin), which is produced by the cells surrounding the embryo (and later by the placenta) and it is required for the establishment and maintenance of pregnancy.


"Studies in primates have shown that immunization with anti-hCG vaccines will render the animals infertile without any detectable alteration to their menstrual cycle.”

The following year, the Global Vaccine Institute issued a bitter statement about tetanus vaccines carrying hCG hormones in the Philippines. Both WHO and the government denied these accusations.

They were confronted with independent lab results, which detected its presence in three of the four vials of tetanus toxoid.

WHO argued that there was an "insignificant" quantity of the hCG present and it accepted that a few vaccines may have been contaminated with hCG during the production process.

Doctors claimed that hCG was not a component nor was it used in the production of any vaccine, let alone tetanus.

Since hCG is natural to the body, the body would in normal circumstances not develop antibodies against it, however, if a part of the hormone is attached to the tetanus vaccine, the body develops antibodies against both the tetanus and the hCG.


The accusations were serious. Doctors claimed that WHO, or some people within WHO, had conducted massive sterilisation in Mexico in 1993, and in Nicaragua and Philippines in 1994, using tetanus as an excuse. The campaign targeted girls and women aged 14–49 years and each received a total of 5 injections, without informed consent.

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