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Somalia, 11 August 2015: UN Humanitarian Coordinator commemorates one-year anniversary of last polio case

11 August 2015, MOGADISHU, Somalia — Today marks the one-year anniversary of the last reported case of polio in Somalia. To mark the occasion, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia and Humanitarian Coordinator, Peter de Clercq, participated in a vaccination campaign for children at the Medina IDP Camp in Mogadishu.

Joined by representatives of the World Health Organization and UNICEF, Mr de Clercq praised the work of national health authorities, Somali volunteers and the international community to stop the outbreak of Polio in Somalia that began in 2013.

“This landmark victory is the result of the efforts of more than 10,000 Somali volunteers and health workers, who vaccinated more than 2 million children under the age of five, visiting every household in every settlement across Somalia,” said de Clercq.

While Somalia must remain polio free for another two years before decisive victory can be claimed over the virus, the fact that the outbreak has been controlled is a testament to what can be achieved when all partners work under the leadership of the government, according to de Clercq.

Polio is a viral disease that attacks the nervous system and can lead to irreversible paralysis and death. The virus spreads quickly among young children in areas with poor sanitation, overcrowding and populations with low immunisation coverage. There is no cure for polio, but it can be halted with comprehensive vaccination campaigns, such as those undertaken by the Ministry of Public Health, with the support of WHO and UNICEF.

The last polio outbreak in Somalia was first detected in May 2013, when the parents of a two-year-old girl in Mogadishu found that she was unable to walk. The virus spread quickly across Somalia, where the rate of routine immunisation is still only 30%, affecting 199 people in 2013 and 2014.

For further information, please contact:
Aleksandra Risteska, Communication and Research Officer, Resident Coordinator’s Office (RCO):











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