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Somalia steps up fight to eradicate polio beginning this month

Somalia will kick off a countrywide polio campaign of two rounds of immunisation to deliver monovalent oral vaccine type 2.

Somalia will kick off a countrywide polio campaign of two rounds of immunisation to deliver monovalent oral vaccine type 2.

The campaign is geared towards sustaining polio immunity and protection in response to the outbreaks of two strains of poliovirus currently circulation.

The first round of immunisation will run from June 23 to 26 while the second one will be done in July from 21 to 24, this year.

The campaigns target children from high-risk populations in 20 districts majorly from Somaliland and Puntland.

In March, Somalia’s 3.1 million children aged under five were vaccinated with a bivalent oral polio vaccine (Bopv), which protected them against type 1 and type 3 polioviruses.

The vaccination was done in two rounds, the first one was done Sool, Nugal and Togdher districts targeting 183,887 children. Of these, 175,905 were vaccinated, 10,675 were vaccinated for the first time.

In the second round from April to May in 39 high-risk districts, 1.52 million children were targeted, but the vaccinators managed to reach 1.42 million, of which 49,496 were vaccinated for the first time and 1,573 refusals recorded.

Despite serious campaigns and immunisations, polio remains a threat to in Somalia children. This is a major hindrance to the efforts made to finish the job of polio eradication in the country.

The WHO estimates that the Global Polio Eradication Initiative has saved 10 million children from paralysis. According to the United Nations, economic models estimate that ending polio would save between $40 billion and $50 billion in the 20 years following eradication.

Poliomyelitis, an infectious viral disease, commonly called polio, causes temporary or permanent paralysis.

The infection affects children and young adults. The virus enters the nervous system and infects nerve cells that control the muscles, causing paralysis, often of the leg.

It is an incurable disease. In its most dangerous form, the polio virus attacks the brain and the respiratory system, creating complications that sometimes result in death.

Most developed countries have been declared polio-free by the WHO.

Only Africa and Asia are struggling to eradicate the disease with the 10 worst-hit countries being Afghanistan, Pakistan, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Israel, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, and the Syrian Arab Republic.

In 2012, almost all polio cases were reported in endemic countries. Last year, outbreaks were reported in Somalia and Kenya. This has given rise to concerns that progress may be stalling. Yet enormous progress has been made in the years since eradication campaigns began

Somalia Federal Government Health Minister Fauziya Abikar Nur appealed to all parents to ensure that their children get vaccinated.

Also, the unregulated free movement of Somalis across the border with Kenya has major implications for public health and safety.

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