, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 8 – The government on Wednesday announced that the second round of the Synchronised Polio Emergency Campaign would begin on December 11 for four days and would target more than one million children below the age of five years.
The first round was administered last month after a polio outbreak was reported in Uganda’s Bugiri district which shares a common border with Busia district in Kenya.
Public Health and Sanitation Director Shahnaaz Sharif explained that the campaign would only focus on 22 districts that were considered high risk in Western, Nyanza and Rift Valley provinces.
“These districts include: Rarieda, Bondo, Siaya, Turkana North, South and Central, Pokot North, West and Central, Kwanza, Trans Nzoia East and West, Mt Elgon, Teso North and South, Bungoma West, South, North and East, Bunyala, Samia and Busia,” he announced.
The third round which is also the final one will begin on January 15 and end on January 19. The estimated cost of the entire vaccination exercise is Sh200 million.
Dr Sharif added that all children in the aforementioned areas and in the specified age bracket would get the oral vaccine whether or not they had already received it.
“During this vaccination campaign, teams of health workers will move from house to house and in addition to that vaccination will be available in all health facilities in these areas free of charge,” he said.
He added that children who received the vaccine during the second round would also get Vitamin A supplements. He further urged all Kenyans to report any suspected polio incidences (on any child below the age of 15) to the health facilities.
“I would like to assure everyone that the vaccines which will be used during these campaigns are safe, effective and have been used in Kenya and in other parts of the world before. If you notice any sudden onset of weakness of the arms and legs on any child, inform the nearest health officials,” he said.
Kenyan representative to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Olivia Yambi also asked Kenya and Uganda to strengthen cross border coordination to enhance information sharing between the border districts and at national level.
She argued that this would help monitor the polio situation and help prevent cross border transmission.
“We should increase our ability to gather valuable information of any suspicions on possible presence of the polio virus and to act swiftly to avoid any of our children getting infected,” she said.
She added that the polio emergency campaign was crucial because routine immunisation had not reached all children in the country.
“From the latest Kenya Demographic and Health Survey results, Kenya’s immunisation coverage is at 77 percent. This leaves 23 percent of children exposed to vaccine preventable diseases. Therefore increasing efforts in routine immunisation is the sure way of safeguarding our children from vaccine preventable diseases,” she said.
UNICEF, the World Health Organisation, Kenya Red Cross Society, Center for Disease Control and other partners have been sponsoring the country’s polio campaign.
“In this campaign, UNICEF is supporting the procurement of 1,035,222 doses of the vaccines as well as advocacy, communication and social mobilisation at grass root level. The total commitment for UNICEF is Sh56,825,925,” said Ms Yambi.
The first round of the polio emergency campaign saw over 900,000 children below five years get vaccinated.