UN declares Somalia polio free for third consecutive year
African country has now completely eradicated polio as no cases of polio disease has been recorded in the last three years. The UN World Health Organisation (WHO) said that the last case of polio was noted in year 2014 in the central part of the country, hence, declared the country polio-free.
The head of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean, which covers Somalia, Mohamed Fiqi said that massive vaccination campaigns and commitment from government and international actors had ensured the polio virus did not recur in the Horn of Africa country. "As the world edges closer to eradicating polio, keeping alert in countries that have high risk of polio importation like Somalia is more of priority than ever," Fiqi said.
"As we move forward, the polio programme in Somalia needs to continue to work to maintain and improve the level of population immunity against polio through target vaccination campaign and strengthening of the routine immunisation services and infrastructure," Fiqi added.The declaration by WHO keeps Somalia outside the last group of countries which still record cases of polio in the world. Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan are the remaining countries where polio is still being recorded. The WHO chief warned Somalia remains at risk of importation of the virus from these countries.
Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo praised efforts to rid his country of the polio disease which he noted had subjected many children into suffering. No cases were found for the past three years and no child was affected by this disease. Many of our children have suffered from polio for many years. "To eradicate polio was a big success and it was collective effort and commitment by many young men and women who sacrificed their lives," Farmaajo noted.
However, the country remains vulnerable to the paralyzing disease, therefore regular vaccination programmes are mandatory, warned the UN health agency. Meanwhile, Somalia is undergoing the worst outbreak of measles and is also tackling the outburst of diarrhoea/cholera since January 2017, diseases which spread due to water contamination.
(With IANS inputs)