By KNA/KBC Reporters
The country wide polio vaccination programme has been launched in Kisii County, with parents being asked to ensure they take their children for immunization.
County Director of Health Dr. Geoffrey Otomu, while launching the exercise at the Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital, said immunization is the surest way to preventing polio in children under five years.
Thomas Onserio contracted polio at a tender age. He says his uninformed parents ignored calls for polio immunization that led him to be crippled, thus offering himself as a living example of the devastating effects of the disease.
As the county immunization ambassador, Onserio is happy to take up the role to encourage parents to take their children for immunization, to ensure they do not suffer the same fate.
Dr. Geoffrey Otomu, the County Director of Health urged parents to heed the call to help their children escape polio, in the exercise that will be administered by the Ministry of Health officials for the next three days.
Sarah Omache, Member of Executive Committee in charge of the health docket said so far 365,000 Polio vaccines have been received, which surpasses the number of potential children they had planned to cover.
The officer also urged affected persons to turn up for assessment at the local Association of Disabled Persons of Kenya offices at the Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital.
According to the World Heal Organization, Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children.
The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (e.g. contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.
Initial symptoms of polio include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs. In a small proportion of cases, the disease causes paralysis, which is often permanent. There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented by immunization.
The World Health Organization is confident polio is in its dying days and could be eradicated within 12 months, despite challenges in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the virus is still endemic and vaccination campaigns are sometimes targeted by extremists.
If the virus is wiped out, polio will become only the second human-hosted virus to be eradicated since the end of smallpox in 1980.
“We absolutely need to keep the pressure up, but we think we could reach the point where we have truly interrupted the transmission at the end of the year or the end of the low season [winter] next year,” said Michel Zaffran, the WHO’s director of polio eradication.