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Anti-polio drive gets underway tomorrow

Thursday January 16 2014

A member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) administers polio vacines to children in Minkammen, 25 kilometres (16 miles) south of Bor, on January 10, 2014. The Ministry of Health said that children under five will be immunised against polio in the next five days. The mandatory polio vaccinations will begin on January 17, 2014 after 14 cases were confirmed last year. PHOTO | FILE

A member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) administers polio vacines to children in Minkammen, 25 kilometres (16 miles) south of Bor, on January 10, 2014. The Ministry of Health said that children under five will be immunised against polio in the next five days. The mandatory polio vaccinations will begin on January 17, 2014 after 14 cases were confirmed last year. PHOTO | FILE NATION MEDIA GROUP

JOY WANJA MURAYA
By JOY WANJA MURAYA
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Children under five will be immunised against polio in the next five days.

The ministry of health says the mandatory polio vaccinations begin on Friday after 14 cases were confirmed last year.

The vaccination will be launched by Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia and Unicef-Kenya Country Director Marcel Rudasingwa in Ruiru.

According to Unicef, 8.3 million children under five years have received the polio vaccine, as well as Vitamin A supplements.

The campaign also targets to identify children and households that were not previously vaccinated. The aim is reach half a million children.

Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children with complications like paralysis that can lead to permanent disability and death.

According to the World Health Organisation, the virus is transmitted through contaminated food and water, and multiplies in the intestines, from where it can invade the nervous system.

Most infected people (90 per cent) have no symptoms or very mild symptoms that usually go unrecognized.

However, WHO lists fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs as initial symptoms of polio.

Most adults do not need the polio vaccine because they received it as children. However, three groups of adults are at higher risk and should consider vaccination.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, those travelling to polio-endemic or high-risk areas need a dose of the vaccine.

Meanwhile the WHO has lauded India for being polio free for three years citing it as a notable milestone for the country as a whole, but the success of the immunization and awareness campaign.
Historically, India has been the largest endemic reservoir of polio in the world with between 50 000 to 100 000 paralytic polio cases occurring each year between 1978 and 1995.

India has been cited as it has also been one of the main sources of polio importation for other countries.

Public health officials in the country attributed the success to improved vaccine delivery system, better trained health staff and high quality surveillance, monitoring and research mechanisms.