MOH launches national campaign to eliminate polio


NAIROBI, Kenya, 17 January 2017 The Government on Tuesday launched a national polio vaccination campaign targeting 2,971,821 children below the age of five in 15 high risk counties across the country.

The campaign will be conducted in 15 counties of Nairobi, Lamu, Tana River, Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, Isiolo, Samburu, Turkana, West Pokot, Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Bungoma and Busia with greatest risk of polio transmission.

The launch follows the detection of polio cases in Nigeria last year that poses a risk to the country due to significant population movement between the two countries.

Kenya has been polio free for over three years after the last wild polio virus case was reported on 14th July 2013 in Garissa County where 14 people were paralyzed and two people died.

“The polio- free status we currently enjoy should therefore be maintained through strengthening routine immunization, conducting high quality polio vaccination campaigns and sustaining robust surveillance system capable of promptly detecting any case to facilitate timely response,” said the Director of Medical Services (DMS), Dr. Jackson Kioko during the launch of the campaign.

“The vaccines being used in routine immunization program in public, private and faith-based health facilities have been tested by the National Quality Control Laboratory and found to be safe. I am requesting parents, guardians and communities living in the areas where the campaign will take place to ensure that all children less than 5 years receive the polio vaccine,” said the DMS.

The Ministry hopes to achieve 95% immunization coverage using portable fridges to ensure that the vaccine is distributed even in areas with no electricity.

By eradicating polio, children in Kenya and the entire world will benefit, and no child or parent will ever know the pain of polio-paralysis,” said Dr. Kioko.

The country has been working with nations across the world towards total eradication since 1988 when the World Health Assembly agreed on the goal to eradicate polio from the face of the earth.

“The world is united in ensuring that Polio is completely eradicated from the face of the earth by 2018. If no cases will have been reported in the country by 2018, Kenya will be declared polio free,” Dr. Kioko revealed.

The DMS thanked the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Rotary International, LDS Charities, USAID, Kenya Red Cross, County Governments, government agencies, NGOs; Faith based organizations, community leaders, religious leaders, teachers and the media for supporting the campaign to ensure every child is reached with quality, safe and effective vaccines.

Polio is a dangerous disease to children below the age of five because not only does it cause paralysis and disability but it can also kill. Despite the many challenges that the world has faced in trying to eradicate polio, the good news is that only 1% of the work remains to be done. Due to the concerted global effort to eradicate Polio, the cases have decreased significantly by over 99% since 1988, from an estimated 350,000 cases then, to only 35 polio cases in 2016. Currently, only two countries (Afghanistan and Pakistan) remain polio-endemic, down from more than 125 countries in 1988.