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Mandera residents hail anti-polio campaign

Monday August 13, 2018

Residents of Mandera County have hailed the on-going polio vaccination campaign in the country and vowed to mobilise all mothers in the area to surrender their babies for the exercise.

The  anti-polio vaccination exercise  aims at reaching over 200,000 children under the age of five years in the semi arid region which borders Somalia and Ethiopia.

Mr. Abdi Hussein Gedo a resident of Elwak in Mandera South Sub County hailed the exercise saying it will save several children from being paralysed in the limbs.

He said the region faces challenges of contracting cross border diseases from neighbouring Somalia and Ethiopia.

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Mr. Gedo who spoke to KNA in Elwak town said devolution has helped the region achieve its health needs as the function now lies under the county government.

“The county government officials can now prioritise needs to deal with areas which were neglected before devolution, “ he said.

Mandera County Health Executive (CEC) Ahmed Sheikh  last week said the anti-polio campaign being conducted in 11 other counties will help improve disease resistance.

“We have a target and we shall be moving from house to house to ensure every child under five years is vaccinated since enough public awareness has been done,” he said.

According to Mr Sheikh, despite Mandera facing challenges including insecurity and the pastoral nature of the lives of residents, the public health team is determined to reach their target.

“We have been failing in the past campaigns because a third of Mandera is insecure, cross-border movement of our people and influx of pastoralists coming in from the neighbouring countries,” he said.

Sheikh who spoke to KNA on phone  blamed free cross-border movement and poor health infrastructure in Somalia and Ethiopia, which neighbour Mandera, for disease outbreaks in the region.

“These areas lack health interventions and this has always rendered us vulnerable leading to outbreaks in the past,” he said.

He cited Chikungunya, cholera and dengue fever outbreaks as diseases “imported” from the neighbouring countries.

“We are challenged by these cross-border issues and as a county we cannot strengthen the fragile health system in Somalia,” he said.

He said Mandera is always bearing the burden of the excesses from the two countries.

But despite the challenges, Mandera is prepared to face the challenges, he said, adding that security arrangements have been put in place to reach areas marked insecure for the polio vaccination.

The county health official said Mandera retained zero resistance to polio due to poor past immunisation campaigns.

“We can only talk of resistance once we have fully immunised ourselves but since we are still having segments of our people not immunised and the high influx of foreigners, then we have no resistance,” he said.

Apart from Mandera, the campaign will also be conducted in 11 other counties, namely Garissa, Isiolo, Kajiado, Kiambu, Kitui, Machakos, Lamu, Meru, Nairobi, Tana River and Wajir.

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