Somalia battling polio outbreak
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
According to latest figures, Somalia now has the worst outbreak in the world with 105 confirmed cases of polio. The areas affected include the south central parts of the country and as far as the breakaway region of Somaliland to the north where health officials have reported several cases.
The UN Humanitarian Coordination office for Somalia (OCHA) says that health authorities lead response activities with the support of the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization. OCHA estimates that five campaigns have been carried out s far, vaccinating four million people all across Somalia.
“UN Health agencies say getting access to southern and central Somalia remains extremely challenging with about 600,000 children in those areas in need of vaccination and vulnerable to the disease”.
The capital Mogadishu has already recorded several cases. Health officials are conducting door to door vaccination. Centers have been set up in several districts of the capital, and mobile vaccination teams have been dispatched to immunize young children in the city.
In Mogadishu we met Sahra Ibrahim whose child has been diagnosed with polio. Her child is among the 105 cases that UN officials have already diagnosed in Mogadishu. Sahra says the illness has affected one of her child’s legs and she can’t walk normally.
Mothers are rushing their children to clinics. The government says it is sensitizing the people on the importance of vaccination. By so doing, it hopes to control the spread of the disease that has also been reported in the neighboring Kenya.
OCHA says the reported number of children with paralysis symptoms shows that there are probably thousands more with the virus, who do not have symptoms, but are capable of spreading it. It also adds that the existing malnutrition rates and food insecurity increase the vulnerability of children to the disease.