“While the world has almost eradicated polio, this new outbreak shows
that we cannot rest until we have stamped it out completely,” U.K.
International Development Secretary Justine Greening said.
The outbreak in Somalia is its first since 2007; Kenya’s outbreak is
its first since 2011. The U.N. said in a statement that if the disease
is not controlled, it can become an epidemic across East Africa, where
many rates of polio vaccination are extremely low.
“There is a very real risk that this outbreak could quickly become a
problem across the entire region,” Greening said. “We must act now to
stop this deadly and debilitating disease from spreading further.”
The contribution from the U.K. will fund the immunization of 6.1
million people at the highest risk of infection in Somalia, northern
Kenya and other countries in the region. Confirmed cases of the disease
were reported in Mogasdishu, Somalia and the Dadaab refugee camp in
Kenya in May.
There is no cure for the disease, but it is preventable through immunization.