Health professionals have sounded an alarm over the resurgence of new cases of polio in Africa which are threatening to claw back the gains so far made in the fight against the disease.
Speaking at Machakos level 5 Hospital during the launch of a fresh immunization campaign targetting at least 242,094 children aged five years and below, a medical expert attached to the World Health Organization (WHO), Charles Mulwa said there is a dire need to upscale preventive measures to contain the spread of polio.
“There is a new threat of surging cases of polio reported in some 22 African countries which is a challenge to the African continent to up the game in the fight against the disease. The fact that few cases are being reported here in Kenya is an indicator that the disease is still here with us” Dr Mulwa told journalists in an interview.
He expressed concern that many parents in the country were increasingly failing to avail their children for immunization, a fact he said could expose many children to more dangerous diseases.
“We have noted extreme laxity among parents in getting children immunized to the extent that we are missing to achieve 100 percent target in various immunization campaigns. This trend should be urgently reversed,” Dr Mulwa said.
Machakos County Chief Officer for Public Health, Simon Mwako said Governor Wavinya Ndeti had issued firm instructions to the Health Department to ensure the targets were met within the stipulated period.
He urged parents to ignore propaganda by a section of anti-vaccine crusaders out to discourage the administration of the vaccine.
“I assure all the parents that this polio vaccine is safe and has no negative effects whatsoever. Parents should ignore any contradicting claims by those opposed to the vaccination,” said Mwako.
The five-day campaign will be spearheaded by 385 teams comprising Community Health Promoters (CHPs) across the county.
Several development partners include the Ministry of Health (MoH), UNICEF, World Health Organization (WHO), Polio Global Eradication Initiative and Centre for Disease Control (CDC).