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A child receives polio vaccination at a past campaign/ FILE

Kenya

Refugee influx threat to polio fight

A child receives polio vaccination at a past campaign/ FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 10 – The government said on Tuesday that elimination of polio in Kenya was being hindered by the situation in neighbouring countries.

Public Health Minister Beth Mugo noted that although Kenya had managed to stay polio free for more than two decades, the increased number of refugees streaming in posed a great threat.

“Because of that crossing into Kenya, it is very difficult to say for sure that we will be able to sustain this (polio free) for long. That is why we are surveilling our borders but since we cannot lock out the refugees, it is something that we have to cope with,” she said.

Speaking when she released a performance report on four rounds of emergency polio vaccination campaigns conducted between September and December last year, the minister said they had surpassed the target.

“We have reached 87 percent immunisation meaning we are safe. Our surveillance teams together with our partners are still alert but as we know now, there is no polio in the country,” she stated.

The emergency campaign was done in 161 districts following a confirmed case of wild polio virus type 1 in Nyanza mid last year.

The initial two rounds were conducted in 32 districts in Nyanza and Rift Valley which are in close proximity to Rongo where the polio case was reported.

The third and fourth rounds were done in 129 districts which were found to be at high risk of polio circulation after a risk analysis was done.

The exercise was done door to door on children under five years, including those that had been vaccinated before.

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