Somalia, UN agencies launch polio vaccination drive to reach 3.5 mln children-Xinhua

Somalia, UN agencies launch polio vaccination drive to reach 3.5 mln children

Source: Xinhua| 2022-06-07 20:54:29|Editor: huaxia

MOGADISHU, June 7 (Xinhua) -- Somalia and the United Nations agencies have kicked off the second round of the polio vaccination campaign, targeting to reach 3.5 million children below five years of age.

The World Health Organization and UNICEF teamed up with the Somalian Ministry of Health and other partners to launch the Round 2 Polio Vaccination Campaign in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, Monday and will run until Wednesday.

"There is strong evidence that the polio virus is circulating in Somalia with new cases and environmental samples detected, including confirmed cases from neighboring countries," the UNICEF said in a joint statement issued Monday evening.

The Ministry of Health and partners are planning to conduct integrated campaigns composed of polio, measles, vitamin A supplementation, and deworming.

The UNICEF said it supports extensive cold chain and vaccine management to ensure that quality polio vaccines are readily available.

The UNICEF's Representative to Somalia Angela Kearney said the polio vaccine is safe, and effective, noting that high coverage is the surest way to prevent polio and the debilitating effect on children.

"Today, vaccines are estimated to be one of the most cost-effective means of advancing global welfare. We should make sure that Somalia's children can walk, play, dance, and learn. Data shows us that vaccinated children do better at school, with economic benefits that ripple across their communities," Kearney said.

The UN said polio was detected in Malawi earlier this year and that puts Somalia at a greater risk of an outbreak and further exacerbates the spread of diseases such as polio and measles.

The UN agencies said health systems throughout the world have been rapidly overwhelmed and compromised by the COVID-19 crisis.

"In Somalia, coupled with drought, access, insecurity and pastoralists movements, essential health services and routine immunization programs that are normally strengthened by supplementary immunization activities and national campaigns have been severely affected," the UN said.

The WHO said reaching every last child with a drop of oral polio vaccine will defeat the virus, noting that every child in Somalia deserves a healthier and better life free from permanent disability.