NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenya’s health ministry on Saturday launched a
five-day polio vaccination campaign targeting over 4.5 million
children below the age of five, in 22 high risk counties.
Secretary Cleopa Mailu, who launched the exercise in Nairobi,
said the campaign will be conducted to ensure all children are
protected against the deadly disease.
He said vaccination
teams will move from house to house to vaccinate all children
under five years and designated areas such as like schools,
churches and transit points to ensure that no eligible child is
treatment in health facilities for other disease conditions will
also receive the vaccine,” Mailu said.
The last polio
outbreak in Kenya occurred three years ago and was reported in
Rongo, Migori county. Three years prior to the outbreak, a wild
polio virus outbreak paralyzed 14 people and killed two others
in the present Garissa and Turkana Counties.
The detection of
polio cases in Nigeria last year poses a risk to Kenya owing to
the significant population movement between the two countries.
Head of the
Department of Preventive and Promotive Health Services, Dr.
David Soti, has urged parents, guardians and communities in the
targeted Counties to ensure that all children below five years
receive the polio vaccine.
“The vaccines that
will be used during this polio vaccination campaign are the same
ones used in our routine immunization program in all public,
private and faith-based health facilities. Additionally, the
vaccines have been evaluated by the National Quality Control
Laboratory and found to be safe,” Soti said.
According to Soti
Kenya has not had an indigenous case of polio since 1984
although the fight to remain polio-free had been hampered by
importations from other countries.
Kenya will continue
to guard its polio-free status by strengthening routine
immunization, conducting high quality polio vaccination
campaigns and sustaining a robust surveillance system, he said.
“Children below five
years are particularly vulnerable to diseases because their
immunity is not yet fully developed to fight the diseases. Polio
is one of the serious vaccine preventable diseases because not
only does it cause paralysis and disability but it can also
kill,” he noted.
Polio is the second
disease being targeted for total eradication in Kenya, after
Small Pox was declared eradicated in 1980.
Due to the concerted
global effort to eradicate polio, the cases have decreased
significantly by over 99 percent since 1988, from an estimated
350,000 cases then, to only 35 polio cases in 2016.