Kenya, So­ma­lia in push to wipe out po­lio virus

Shared health fa­cil­i­ties to be set up on bor­der and cit­i­zens al­lowed free ac­cess

The Star (Kenya) - - Counties - STEPHEN ASTARIKO @stephenAs­tariko

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.

/ FILE

Mus­lima Isak with her mother at a re­cep­tion cen­tre in the Da­ga­ha­ley refugee camp, Dadaab, in July 2014

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