NAIROBI, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's Ministry of Health said on Monday that it has rolled out a new polio vaccination campaign targeting some 993,458 children in the northern part of the country, including refugee camps.
Mary Muthoni Muriuki, principal secretary for the State Department of Public Health and Professional Standards in the Ministry of Health, said the vaccination exercise aimed at stopping the polio outbreak will end on Thursday.
"We intend to interrupt and stop further transmission of polio disease in Mandera, Wajir, and Garissa counties in northern Kenya," Muriuki said in a statement released in the capital of Nairobi.
Muriuki said the vaccination was originally planned for November 2023 but was postponed in the three areas due to heavy rains that were experienced in the counties, adding that the vaccination campaign targets a total of 755,011 children under the age of five and an additional 238,447 children aged between 5 and 15 years in Fafi and Dadaab sub-counties and all refugee camps in Garissa.
Muriuki attributed the polio outbreak that was reported last year to importation from a neighboring country and suboptimal routine immunization coverage in several counties, putting all children at risk of polio disease.
She added that the Ministry of Health then isolated 14 polioviruses from stools collected from children in refugee camps in Garissa County, as well as from environmental samples from sewage in Garissa, confirming that the regions are still faced with the significant threat of polio disease.
Polio is a crippling and fatal disease that has no cure; however, it can be prevented and eradicated through vaccination. Polio disease spreads through the fecal-oral route; hence, it is crucial to use toilets to properly dispose of human waste and practice proper hand hygiene measures. ■