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Call to action against polio virus in Somalia: WHO and UNICEF

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DTMT Network
Health authorities in Mogadishu, Somalia, ran a polio eradication campaign from June 24, to 27, 2019, in Puntland and Somaliland to arrest the ongoing havoc caused by polio virus.

There are more than 945,000 children under the age of 5 years who need to get rid of the polio virus; more than 3000 vaccinators are going door to door, thousands of social mobilizers are sharing this message to gain awareness and since the outbreak of polio virus 15 children have paid the price.

This campaign is supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

All the states in Somalia including Somaliland and Puntland are living through 2 types of polio virus. Both viruses require a different vaccine and children require several doses of the vaccines in order to boost their immunity. Unlike the last case of polio virus that happened in August 2014, this one is not as wild but does contain the ability to infect paralyse children with low immunity.

Dr. Mamunar Rahman Malik, WHO Representative in Somalia raised the point that it is vital that parents ensure that their children receive this vaccine as it will gain immunity against these two different kinds of  polio virus. He stressed that all caregivers in this area must come together in this campaign and made sure children are at home and are getting the oral vaccines so that they can fight off the danger of being paralyzed permanently.

Werner Schultink, UNICEF Somalia Representative, said, “The only way to protect children from all polio viruses is to ensure they receive multiple doses of polio vaccine, through campaigns and health facilities wherever possible. Caregivers should make sure children get the vaccine in time.”

Somalia has been performing a polio programme since December 2017 that includes 14 immunization campaigns and five nationwide campaigns to stop spread of polio viruses. Regardless of their important work for the children of Somalia, not all children get the vaccinations which leads to polio virus spreading across the country and also to Ethiopia. To fight this, both polio teams of Somalia and Ethiopia came together and conducted a joint planning workshop in Hargeisa earlier this week to coordinate immunization activities around their shared border and high risk areas in both their countries to stop cross border transmission and spillover of polio virus.


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