, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 28 – The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday commended Kenya for eliminating Wild Polio 2 ahead of the 2017 and 2018 deadline.
Speaking while commissioning destruction of over 1,000 polio viruses, WHO Kenya Country Officer in Charge, Nathan Bakyaita said Kenya eradicated the last poliovirus case in 2013.
“On the African continent, Somalia was the last country reporting a wild poliovirus case with the onset of paralysis on 14 August 2014. Kenya’s last reported case had an onset of paralysis on 14 July 2013,” he explained.
The last case of polio three was detected in Nigeria in November 2012 ‘and none has been reported ever since.’
Acting Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko who also graced the breakthrough in the fight against polio said destruction of the viruses will ensure the disease does not spread.
“Today’s event will ensure all the remaining known polio virus type two in this country will be destroyed by October 31, unless these are viruses are eliminated the risk of introduction from facilities to the environment remain real,” Kioko explained.
According to the National Taskforce for the Containment of Polioviruses Chairman Prof Patrick Kenya, vaccination against the other two strains of polio (Polio 1 and 3) will continue.
The Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) laboratory serves Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea and Comoros meaning that progress on Polio 2 had also been made in the four countries.
On Thursday 1,000 isolates (live polio viruses) translating to 12kgs were destroyed.
Bakyaita pledged that WHO will continue supporting Kenya to ensure there is active surveillance on the disease to strengthen routine immunisation.
He further urged the country also to address immunisation gaps in neglected regions; otherwise, ‘there exists a real risk of reversal of the significant gains the country has made on polio eradication.’
“Despite the tremendous progress, counties must guard against any complacency by maintaining a robust surveillance system and,” he advised.
To support the efforts, he announced that WHO will release $251,709 to strengthen surveillance activities.