Wednesday August 12, 2015
MOGADISHU (HOL) ----Somalia has marked its first year without a single recorded polio case Tuesday, raising hope of the deadly disease’s eradication in the horn of Africa nation which came off the list of countries plagued by the acute viral disease.Somalia’s health minister Hawa Hassan described the milestone as ‘remarkable’ weigh the development against last year that health workers recorded198 polio cases across the country.
“We shall continue the vaccination campaign to eradicate the disease.” she said at an event held in Mogadishu.
Despite achieving polio-free status, the World Health Organization (WHO) says Somalia has had sustained circulation of vaccine-derived polioviruses since 2009 due to low routine immunization coverage rates and lack of supplementary immunization activities in insecure areas.
Speaking at the event, Dr Ghulam Rabani Popal, WHO Representative for Somalia urged Somalia to keep momentum so that the disease wouldn’t counterstrike in the country.
In addition to that, Peter de Clercq Deputy Special Representative for Somalia sent a message to the Somali parent that vaccination is the most important life-saving method to prevent the infectious disease which has no treatment to deal with.
Since the fall of the government in 1991, Somalia has been without an effective central-level Expanded Programme on Immunization, however, WHO and UNICEF have since conducted numerous immunization campaigns and initiatives to provide an integrated package of health services, including immunizations from fixed-post sites, have been conducted twice annually in Somalia.
WHO says that Polio vaccination is also given as part of the package of services delivered during Child Health Days. However, coverage is limited due to insecurity; less than half of all eligible children are reached nationally via national immunization days and Child Health Days.