UN agencies take polio vaccination campaigns to Somalia


The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have called on Somalian citizens to vaccinate their children against polio.


The call came against the backdrop of a polio campaign currently on in Puntland and Somaliland to vaccinate more than 940 000 children under five years of age to stop the outbreak of the polio virus.


According to information retrieved from WHO’s website, the campaign targets all children in 12 districts in Somaliland and nine districts in Puntland.


The organisation noted that 15 children had been infected since the current polio outbreak began.


Somaliland, Puntland and other states in Somalia are currently experiencing outbreaks of II strains of poliovirus,” WHO revealed.


It noted that, though the viruses were not wild polio, they could infect and paralyse children with low immunity.


It stated, “each strain requires a different vaccine, and children need several doses of each vaccine to boost immunity.


“It’s vital that parents ensure their children receive this vaccine because it builds immunity against a specific strain of polio virus circulating in the country.”


Dr Mamunur Rahman Malik, WHO Representative for Somalia, reportedly urged parents and guardians to ensure that all children were available for the exercise.


He assured them of the safety of the vaccines.


” I call upon all care givers in the areas being covered in this campaign to please ensure that children are at home and accept the oral polio vaccine when it is offered,”  Malik said.


Werner Schultink, UNICEF Somalia Representative also urged care givers to ensure total compliance with the immunisation exercise.


“Caregivers need to ensure children receive this vaccine when it is available,” he advised.


WHO noted that Somalia’s polio programme had conducted 14 immunisation campaigns, including five nationwide campaigns, since December 2017 to stop further spread of the outbreaks.


However, it complained that some children were still not vaccinated in spite of the efforts.