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How poor health in Somalia hurts Mandera locals

Wednesday August 15, 2018

A clinical officer giving out polio vaccine to a young child on 12th.July.2018/EZEKIEL AMING'A

Mandera is prone to outbreaks of chikungunya, cholera, dengue fever and polio because of proximity to Somalia and the nomadic lifestyle of residents.

Health executive Mohamud Aden on Monday said uncontrolled cross-border movement has led to spread of diseases from neighbouring Ethiopia and Somalia where there are poor interventions to control outbreaks.

Aden who spoke in Elwak town at the end of a month-long polio vaccination campaign said the county wants to immunise children aged five and below.

“Previous campaigns have failed to achieve desired results because of insecurity, cross-border movement and the influx of pastoralists from the neighbouring countries,” Aden said.

He said Somalia and Ethiopia have poor health infrastructure leading to outbreak of many diseases.

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“These areas lack proper health interventions which have always rendered us vulnerable to the outbreaks,” he said.

The official said chikungunya, cholera and dengue fever outbreaks have often been “imported” from the neighbouring countries.

“As a county, we cannot strengthen the fragile health system in Somalia. International NGOs should help,” Aden said.

He said the county was doing everything possible to secure residents. He said measures including enhanced security had been made for the vaccination drive to reach areas that were previously inaccessible.

Mandera has zero resistance to polio, a fact Aden attributed to failed immunisation campaigns.

“We can only talk of resistance once we have fully immunised ourselves. Segments of our people are not yet immunised. That coupled with the high influx of foreigner s means we are vulnerable,” the executive member said.

The vaccination drive was aimed at reaching 200,000 children but Sheikh said yesterday that a total of 222,008 were immunised.

“The IDP influx in parts of Mandera West and Banisa and the movement of pastoralists from Wajir and Somalia contributed to the surpassing of the target,” Aden said.

Residents have praised the drive. “The county has given priority to healthcare, a service that was previously neglected by the national government,” Elwak resident Abdi Gedo said.

The vaccinaction drive was conducted in 11 other counties including Garissa, Wajir, Nairobi, Isiolo, Lamu, Kajiado, Kiambu, Tana River, Meru, Machakos and Kitui.


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