11 July 2018

Kenya: Mandera Polio Jab Drive Targets Over 200,000 Children

Photo: UNICEF/Olivier Asselin
(file photo).

At least 205,000 children under the age of five years will receive the polio vaccine in a campaign that has begun in Mandera County.

Mandera County Health Executive Ahmed Sheikh Wednesday said the anti-polio campaign being conducted in 11 other counties will help improve disease resistance.

"We have a target and we shall be moving from house to house to ensure every child under five years is vaccinated since enough public awareness has been done," he said.

According to Mr Sheikh, despite Mandera facing challenges including insecurity and the pastoral nature of the lives of residents, the public health team is determined to reach their target.

INSECURITY

"We have been failing in the past campaigns because a third of Mandera is insecure, cross-border movement of our people and influx of pastoralists coming in from the neighbouring countries," he said.

He blamed free cross-border movement and poor health infrastructure in Somalia and Ethiopia, which neighbour Mandera, for disease outbreaks in the region.

"These areas lack health interventions and this has always rendered us vulnerable leading to outbreaks in the past," he said.

CROSS-BORDER CHALLENGES

He cited Chikungunya, cholera and dengue fever outbreaks as diseases "imported" from the neighbouring countries.

"We are challenged by these cross-border issues and as a county we cannot strengthen the fragile health system in Somalia," he said.

He said Mandera is always bearing the burden of the excesses from the two countries.

PREPARED

But despite the challenges, Mandera is prepared to face the challenges, he said, adding that security arrangements have been put in place to reach areas marked insecure for the polio vaccination.

The county health minister said Mandera retained zero resistance to polio due poor past immunization campaigns.

"We can only talk of resistance once we have fully immunized ourselves but since we are still having segments of our people not immunized and the high influx of foreigners, then we have no resistance," he said.

Apart from Mandera, the campaign will also be conducted in 11 other counties, namely Garissa, Isiolo, Kajiado, Kiambu, Kitui, Machakos, Lamu, Meru, Nairobi, Tana River and Wajir.

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