Kenya, Somalia in push to wipe out polio virus
Shared health facilities to be set up on border and citizens allowed free access
Health officials from Kenya and Somalia have agreed to work together to eradicate polio. They will come up with an action plan to strengthen coordination and surveillance in both countries.
The officials are meeting in Garissa for a three-day conference to brainstorm on strengthening management at the county level, improving routine immunisation, acute flaccid paralysis surveillance and polio campaigns.
Director of Core Group Polio Project Jitendra Awale told the press on Tuesday both governments must conduct social mobilisation through radio and other media to educate families on the importance of immunisation.
The measures to be taken include setting up shared health facilities along the border and allowing citizens from the two countries free access to immunise the large number of unvaccinated children.
“Poliovirus does not respect geographical borders. Some communities are particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases because they share a common ecology, culture and risk factors for disease spread, such as mobile population and often socioeconomic disadvantage compounded by scarce health services,” Awale said.
He said the initiative will be extended to Ethiopia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda to eradicate polio in the entire Horn of Africa.
Muslima Isak with her mother at a reception centre in the Dagahaley refugee camp, Dadaab, in July 2014