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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenya pledges enhanced vigilance amid new polio threats   

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s health ministry will intensify surveillance along porous borders, invest in diagnostic kit and promote public awareness to prevent an outbreak of polio, an official said Wednesday.

Jackson Kioko, Director of Medical Services in the Ministry of Health, said the government and bilateral partners have earmarked resources to strengthen response to a polio outbreak amid threat from neighboring countries.

“We are on high alert to prevent a polio outbreak given our high levels of vulnerability to the debilitating ailment. Our goal is to achieve complete polio eradication by the end of this year as envisioned in 2013-2018 end game strategy,” said Kioko.

He spoke in Nairobi during a meeting of health experts from the Horn of Africa region to discuss new strategies to hasten attainment of polio-free status.

Senior policymakers from the region and representatives of multilateral agencies agreed that a resurgence of polio was possible in the absence of strong deterrent measures.

Kioko revealed that Kenya was closely monitoring neighboring Somalia and a densely populated Nairobi suburb where strains of polio virus were discovered earlier this year.

“The discovery of polio virus type 2 in four environmental samples in Banadir, Somalia and recently in Nairobi’s Eastleigh suburb is a major setback in the fight against this disease,” Kioko said.

He revealed that Kenya will later this month carry out immunization against polio in the high-risk counties that neighbor Somalia and South Sudan.

He urged Horn of African countries to share best practices on hygiene, early warning, immunization and case management in order to strengthen the war against polio.

Kenya is among sub-Saharan African countries that have made significant progress towards polio eradication though the threat of an outbreak remains huge due to influx of refugees from strife-torn neighboring countries where the disease is endemic.

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