Health CS Sicily Kariuki has called on IGAD member countries to join hands to eradicate polio that continues to be a threat to the promotion of health in the region.
The CS said that movement across the porous borders in the region continues to present a significant challenge to stopping polio virus transmission.
“Insecurity and constant conflicts in our region resulting in displacement of large populations continue to be a major contributing to the spread of the virus. And the risk of continued transmission,” the CS said.
Speaking Friday at Garissa University grounds when she officially launched the 5 days anti polio regional exercise that kicks off on Saturday, Kariuki said that despite the gains made globally in eradicating polio virus, countries within the horn of Africa have experienced a repeated outbreak of the disease.
The campaign brings together representatives from WHO, UNICEF and IGAD member states.
She said malnutrition, low population immunity and displacement of persons was partly to blame for polio outbreak.
Kariuki said during the 2013 polio outbreak in Garissa County, 14 people were paralyzed resulting in two deaths adding that during the same period, a similar outbreak was taking place in Somalia with 105 confirmed cases.
“This clearly confirms that all countries within the region are closely intertwined and face similar face polio threats,” she noted.
She said the ministry with the support of partners plans to reach 2.8 million children in 12 high risk counties among them Garissa. Other counties are Wajir, Mandera, Nairobi, Lamu, Tana River, Meru, Kitui, Machakos, Isiolo, Kiambu and Kajiado.
There will be two rounds of synchronized vaccination.
Garissa governor Ali Korane called for joint collaboration from member states in eradicating polio.
“Our county’s proximity to Somalia whose health sector collapsed due to persistent insecurity has in one way frustrating efforts to eradicate polio,” Korane said.