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Somalia is now polio free, UN declares

22/10/2015 15:09

The UN agencies on Thursday, October 22, 2015 declared the 2013 to 2014 polio outbreak in Somalia, which affected nearly 200 people (most of them children), over.


According to a joint statement by the UNICEF, World Health Organisation, WHO, and partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the announcement came 14 months after the last polio case was identified.


An assessment team conducted a review in Somalia in October and decided the polio outbreak was over.


Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Peter de Clercq, said the achievement was a great credit to the Somalis and volunteers, who “put their lives at risk to save lives of others in need.”


He praised the Somali government for it concerted efforts in the fight against the disease.


“The Somali authorities have placed polio outbreak response as one of their national priorities and they exerted tremendous effort to ensure children are vaccinated,” he said.


Polio was detected in Somalia in May 2013, for the first time in six years, after parents of a two-year-old girl in Mogadishu found she was unable to walk.



The virus, which can cause paralysis or even death, spread quickly, affecting 194 people in 2013.


However, efforts by the Somali government to contain it, yielded fruits as the number of those affected reduced to five in 2014.


Over 2.1 million children underage five were targeted in multiple immunisation campaigns launched by the Somali health authorities, with the support of the UN agencies and GPEI.


Two UNICEF staff, who took part in the counter-polio campaign, were killed in a suicide blast in Garowe, Puntland in April.


Source - NAN

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