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Somalia, 17 December 2014: FAO, WHO & UNICEF join forces to fight against polio, measles and livestock diseases

 
17 December 2014, Garowe Puntland, Somalia - Three UN agencies working in Somalia have combined efforts in a national vaccination campaign partly aimed at eradicating polio which causes lifelong paralysis or even death.

UNICEF along with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a joint vaccination campaign for humans and their livestock targeting highly mobile pastoralist communities. Despite achieving polio-free status in 2007, 199 cases of polio have been reported since a new outbreak in May 2013.

UNICEF Somalia video/2014
© UNICEF Somalia video/2014
During the whole of November specialized teams of vaccinators crisscrossed Somalia’s northern Puntland region and vaccinated over 26,000 children under 10 against polio - a third of whom had never been vaccinated before.

“In this joint strategy, we are able to administer vaccinations against polio and measles—delivering health services as one UN and using our strengths to reach some of the most remote parts of Somalia,” said Gul Payenda, UNICEF Polio Vaccination Coordinator in Puntland.

During the whole of November specialized teams of vaccinators crisscrossed Somalia’s northern Puntland region and vaccinated over 26,000 children under 10 against polio - a third of whom had never been vaccinated before. In addition some 23,000 children were vaccinated against measles. FAO planned to treat and vaccinate at least 12 million animals.

Despite an ongoing intensive vaccination campaign, five new cases of polio were confirmed in Somalia this year all in Puntland including one adult who died.

The polio virus is transmitted through water or food contaminated with human waste from an infected person.  There is no cure for polio and the vaccine – which is just two drops in the mouth - is safe and effective.

This year there was also an outbreak of measles which can cause disability or death affecting more than 9000 children.

UNICEF Somalia video/2014
© UNICEF Somalia video/2014
Amina Isse’s household benefited from the joint vaccination drive.

Amina Isse and her grandsons herd their 400 animals in the grasslands of Puntland however earlier this year 100 goats and sheep died from a mystery illness At Wau village 20 kilometres outside Puntland’s capital Garowe, Amina household benefited from the joint vaccination drive.

“I am really happy today because I have had both my remaining livestock vaccinated against a range of diseases and grandchildren against polio and measles,” said Amina. “This initiative provides very scarce health services which, as pastoralists, we cannot easily reach.’

Next year Joint Vaccination Programmes are planned for the rainy seasons (March/April and October/November) when the grass is plentiful allowing pastoralists tp come closer to the urban centres.

 

 
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