MOMBASA, Kenya, Jul 12 – The national government on Friday launched a five-day countrywide Polio vaccination campaign targeting about 2.6 million children under the age of five.
The campaign, which was launched at Ronald Ngala Primary School in Mombasa, targets some 11 counties considered to be high-risk region for the deadly polio virus.
The Ministry of Health said the campaign will be conducted in Nairobi, Lamu, Tana River, Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, Kilifi, Turkana, Mombasa and Isiolo counties.
Dr Joel Gondi from the Ministry of Health, who was speaking on behalf of the Acting Director General of Health, Dr Wekesa Masasabi, urged all parents to ensure all young children are immunized.
“The campaign targets 2,635,714 children below the ages of five in the eleven counties. We urge parents to ensure all young ones are immunized within the next five days,” said Gondi.
He said in order to achieve the target, the health teams will be moving from house to house, other will be stationed in hospitals, schools, churches, Madrassas and others in transit areas.
The national government has also launched a new five-year Polio Endgame Strategy 2019-2023, which spells out the approaches and tools to wipe out polio virus from its last remaining reservoirs, he added.
United Nations representative Dr Iheoma Onuekwesi from Nigeria said the polio vaccine is important in helping to achieve zero cases of polio in Kenya and in Africa at large.
“The campaign targets 2.6 million children aged 0-59 months. The oral polio vaccine protects the children from poliomyelitis, a disease that paralyzes and even kill children,” she said.
According to statistics, for the last six year, Kenya has achieved zero cases of polio infection. The last imported wild polio virus was imported into Kenya on July 14, 2013.
However, last year polio virus was detected in sewage sample in Nairobi’s Eastleigh area.
This raised an alarm prompting the national government to administer polio vaccination in 12 counties.
Nominated senator Harold Kipchumba, who is a polio survivor and national anti-polio champion, said there is laxity in government to fight the disease.
“As a country, we are about to achieve a polio-free status, but we are seeing laxity in government to tackle the disease. We need to work more to fight this disease and many other preventable diseases. We do not want to see our children suffering from preventable infections,” he said.
The Mombasa County Health Chief Officer, Dr Aisha Abubakar, said they target to immunize 308,000 children aged below five years in the region.
“We have enlightened our women in Mombasa and we are optimistic that we shall achieve our target. Mombasa is at 89.5 per cent reach in term of polio vaccine,” she said.