NAIROBI (Halbeeg News) – Health Minister from Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia will today meet over polio vaccination in Garissa town.
The officials are expected to launch a joint polio vaccination campaign for the Horn of Africa.
Kenya’s Health Minister, Sicily Kariuki will chair the conference which is hosted by the county government of Garissa.
During the conference, the three countries are expected to discuss the factors undermining polio eradication campaigns in the region.
Ms. Kariuki said in a press statement that the Global Polio Eradication Initiative recommended two rounds of synchronised polio vaccination campaigns to be conducted in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia.
She said this was due to the recent isolation of more circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses in Somalia, and particularly in areas close to Kenya-Somalia-Ethiopia border.
Somalia will be conducting the campaign in the September and October immunisation drive.
“The first round of the campaigns in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia will be conducted from September 15 to 19 and subsequent round in October,” the minister said.
The government of Somalia will launch the first phase of the polio vaccination campaigns in the regions along its borders with Ethiopia and Kenya.
The regions include Gedo, Lower and Middle Jubba, Bakool, Hiiraan, Galgaduud, Mudug and Nugaal regions.
According to the statement, the two planned rounds in Kenya will target 12 high-risk counties that participated in the July and August immunisation drive.
They include Nairobi, Wajir, Garissa, Mandera, Lamu, Tana River, Meru, Kitui, Machakos, Isiolo, Kiambu, and Kajiado counties.
“The Ministry would like to assure the public that the polio vaccines are the usual vaccines used for routine vaccination in our health facilities,” the CS said.
Kairuki added that the vaccines have undergone rigorous safety procedures during the manufacturing processes.
“In addition, the Ministry, together with the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishop’s medical personnel and Vaccine testing expert committee, have undertaken further testing of the vaccines at National Quality Control Laboratory in Nairobi and the test confirmed the safety of the vaccines,” the CS added.
She said the Health ministry is committed to implementing preventive health interventions and response measures as guided by national policies and in line with international requirements as provided for in International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005.
The Cabinet Secretary appealed to all Kenyans in the respective target counties to make their children available for the polio vaccine to help kick polio out of Kenya by the year 2020.
“If we achieve this, then our goal of universal health coverage will be a reality,” she concluded.
Ethiopia on its part, the first round of the campaigns will be conducted in regional states along the country’s borders with Somalia and Kenya.
The campaign will mainly focus on Oromia and Somali Regional states.
More than 1 million children under the age of five in Ethiopia will be vaccinated against polio during the upcoming joint vaccination campaign.