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Kenya to conduct polio vaccination campaign at border regions

25 August 2015, 21:40

Nairobi - Kenya plans to carry out its second round of polio vaccination campaign targeting 1.5 million children under the age of five in the border counties at the end of August, officials said on Tuesday.

Ephantus Maree, Head of Vaccines and Immunization with Ministry of Health, told a health forum in Nairobi that Kenya's neighboring countries that have weak health systems pose a major risk due to migration across porous borders.

"We will therefore conduct a one-week long supplementary immunization campaign targeting the most high risk populations," Maree said during the National Polio Stakeholders meeting.

The polio immunization campaign will take place just a few weeks after the East African nation conducted a similar campaign targeting 32 counties. The government vaccinated more than 6 million children below five years of age against polio in the five-day exercise which ended on Aug. 7.

Also read: Government to appeal Ruto ICC ruling

The vaccination yielded coverage of 99.3 percent, implying that the vaccinated children are protected from any infection by Wild Polio Virus.

A risk analysis done in Kenya in January shows that 66 percent of Kenya was still under moderate or high risk of getting polio should an imported case be found in the country.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative therefore recommended that Kenya conducts two vaccination campaigns in 2015 targeting the areas at risk of polio. And the UN World Health Organization (WHO) will fund the two campaigns to the tune of 1.2 million U.S. dollars.

Maree said that the risk of a polio outbreak in Kenya is still high because only 1.2 million children out of the 1.5 million targeted for routine immunization in health facilities are reached.

The ministry of health said that Kenya's last outbreak occurred in 2013 where a total of 14 polio cases were reported in the Garissa County that borders Somalia.

The global community has set a target of eradicating polio by end of 2018. Maree said that 2015 is the best year for the campaign targeting elimination of the virus as only 35 cases were reported globally and none in Africa.

He added that Africa will only be declared polio free if no nation in the continent reports any case of polio.


- Xinhua

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