Round 2: The fight against polio continues in Somalia
UNICEF supports vaccine equity through cold chain and systems management
Today, Somalia is launching the Round 2 Polio Vaccination Campaign with a target to reach 3.5 million children below 5 years of age.
There is strong evidence that the polio virus is circulating in Somalia, with new cases and environmental samples detected; including confirmed cases from neighboring countries. With low routine immunization coverage and a high concentration of people in Internally Displaced Person's camps due to the recent drought and the transmission characteristics of the wild polio virus. Polio was detected in Malawi earlier this year and that puts Somalia at a greater risk of an outbreak and further exacerbates the spread of diseases such as polio and measles.
The Ministry of Health and partners are planning to conduct integrated campaigns composed of Polio, Measles, Vitamin A supplementation and deworming. UNICEF is supporting with extensive cold chain and vaccine management to ensure that quality polio vaccines are readily available.
Health systems throughout the world have been rapidly overwhelmed and compromised by the COVID-19 crisis. In Somalia, coupled with drought, access, insecurity and pastoralists movements; essential health services and routine immunization programmes that are normally strengthened by supplementary immunization activities and national campaigns have been severely affected.
Speaking at the launch, UNICEF's Representative to Somalia, Angela Kearney, said “The polio vaccine is safe, effective. I can assure you that a high coverage is the surest way to prevent polio and the debilitating effect on our children.” Today, vaccines are estimated to be one of the most cost-effective means of advancing global welfare. We should make sure that Somalia’s children are able to walk, play, dance and learn. Data shows us that, vaccinated children do better at school, with economic benefits that ripple across their communities.
The polio vaccination campaign is possible thanks to donors like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Rotary International.