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UNICEF-supported mobilizers persuade families to vaccinate children against polio

UNICEF Somalia/2018
© UNICEF Somalia/2018
Social mobilizers deployed by UNICEF to go house to house in Mogadishu to inform families about the polio vaccination campaign.

By Mohamed Elmi, Communications Officer, UNICEF Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia, 7 June 2018 - Although Somalia has been polio free since August 2014, when the last case of Wild Polio Virus was reported from Hobyo district in the central Mudug region, it remains at high risk of vaccine preventable disease outbreaks as under half of all children are reached with routine immunization coverage.

Last December, a vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 was found in sewage water in Waberi District, Mogadishu, and other areas suggesting the potential circulation of the poliovirus. This led to an immediate response to protect children under 5 from the threat of polio disease through multiple rounds of vaccinations.

Led by the Government of Somalia, with the support of UNICEF and other partners including the World Health Organization, more than 725,000 children were vaccinated in a house to house campaign in December in Banadir, Middle Shabelle and Lower Shabelle – 97 per cent of the target.

Further rounds were held in January, April and May this year targeting over 700,000 children under the age of 5 in each round.

UNICEF Somalia/2018
© UNICEF Somalia/2018
Child receives oral polio vaccine during campaign in Mogadishu.

More than 4,400 vaccinators and monitors were deployed. In addition around 850 social mobilizers and religious leaders were trained to go house to house in the three target regions in each round to explain the importance of the vaccinations.

Hawo Mohamed, a 36 year old mother who has been living at Rajo camp for the displaced in Wadajir district, Mogadishu for the past three years previously refused to have her four children vaccinated. However, the social mobilizers who visited her before the campaign in May managed to convince her of the importance of vaccinating children against diseases.

After allowing her children – Abdulahi aged 5, Abdifatah, 4, Rahmo, 2, and Mariam, 1, to be vaccinated, Hawo said, “I realize that without vaccinations our children could die and or be disabled.”

Mumina Mohamed, a 32 year old mother living in Baylka IDP camp in Waberi district with her three children under the age of five year also said she has never taken any child for vaccinations before.

“This was my first time to see health mobilizers regularly visiting our area and telling us about vaccinations in the camps here,” she said. “This helped me understand how my children can benefit from vaccinations and I have taken them all.”

 

 
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