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UNICEF receives 1.3 mln USD for polio fight in Somalia
Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The UNICEF Somalia Representative Sikander Khan said in a statement on Tuesday that it has received $1.3 million to scale up fight against polio outbreak in Somalia.

The UN agency said the fund will help UNICEF and its partners conduct additional vaccination campaigns and prevent further spread of the virus across Somalia and into neighbouring countries.

The funds will cover more than 5 million doses of oral polio vaccines for two rounds of Supplementary Immunization Activities for November and December.

The statement estimated that almost 4 million people have received polio vaccination after a polio outbreak was confirmed in May, six years after Somalia was declared free of the crippling virus.

"Lack of access to routine immunization in Somalia has created the largest known reservoir of unvaccinated children in a single geographic area in the world. The total number of Somali children who had never been vaccinated between 2008 and 2012 was estimated to reach 1 million," Khan said.

According to the UNICEF, 66 cases of polio have so far been confirmed in Somalia, primarily in the Banadir region.

In response to the outbreak and to prevent further spread, four vaccinated campaigns have been conducted and almost 4 million people have been vaccinated against polio across Somalia.

Currently Somalia has the second lowest coverage of polio vaccination through routine immunization in the world at 47 percent after Equatorial Guinea.

Before the new outbreak, the worldwide number of polio cases had decreased by more than 99 percent from 350,000 in 1988 to 223 cases in 2012 with active cases reported in only three endemic countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.

The UN children's agency warned that the outbreak in Somalia, if not controlled quickly, could jeopardize global efforts to wipe out polio once and for all.


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