9 November 2012

Somalia: Thousands at Risk of Polio in Somalia's Port City of Kismayo

A health worker administers a Polio vaccine in Sokoto, northern Nigeria.

Kismayo — An estimated 135,000 children are at risk of polio in Somalia's port city of Kismayo, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Three years ago, Al-Shabab insurgents banned polio vaccination in Kismayo and other parts of central Somalia.

"One of the key concerns... is the potential for a polio outbreak given the Al-Shabab ban on polio vaccination three years ago. All children born since then and a number of older children have also not been vaccinated. Southern and central regions of Somalia, in particular, are characterized by low coverage rates of routine vaccinations due to inaccessibility and conflict," OCHA said in its latest bulletin.

Aid agencies say they are preparing for a vaccination campaign targeting at least 135,000 children in Somalia's Juba regions.

Officials told IRIN further vaccinations would also be conducted as soon as access to southern and central Somalia is secured.

"If the inaccessible areas of south and central Somalia become accessible, we expect to reach an additional 800,000 under-five kids that have not been vaccinated in the last three years," Pieter Desloovere, a communications and donor relations officer at the World Health Organization, told IRIN by email.

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. ]

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