As the UN agency’s country representative lauds all partners in Somaliland for managing to keep it polio –free since 2007
By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – over 1 million Somaliland children aged between 9 months to 9yrs are expected to benefit from a forthcoming immunization campaign to be undertaken in all regions of the country.
This was informed by the UNICEF country representative for Somalia/Somaliland Steven Lauwerier during the close of a function whose participants included health professional organisations and social health workers and strategizing on immunization campaign at Ambassador Hotel in Hargeisa where IPV a new Polio Vaccine was also introduced to the country by the UN body.
“IPV (Inactivated\injectable polio vaccine) has been introduced into the Polio eradication programme to complement the OPV (the drops) thus accelerate the eradication effort and further prevent outbreak “said Mr Lauwerier while flanked by his Chief of field office Hargeisa Amina Mohamed, WHO international focal person Dr Hasan Khan and the Somaliland EPI manager at the ministry of health Dr Mohamed Abdirahman.
Addressing participants who included health professional organisations and social health workers the country representative urged all stakeholders to ensure that the new vaccine is widely utilized to avert and control the outbreak of polio and ensure that immunization in general is promoted and sustained routinely.
Informing that vaccination has proven to be the most successful public health intervention in the whole world where Billions of children have been saved especially in developing countries since 1970 when the Expanded Program on Immunization- EPI was started the UN staffer called upon All stakeholders among them parents, caregivers , politicians, traditional/religious leaders etc. to ensure that all children are immunized.
“Let us take advantage of the stable environment in Somaliland and ensure not only realization of the targeted over one million immunization figure but ensure all children are immunized routinely and during campaigns “
Upon congratulating all partners in Somaliland for managing to keep it polio –free since 2007 Mr Lauwerier urged caution thence need to step up efforts because the Risk is still there, especially with increased movement from the bordering countries and those fleeing Yemen crisis.
At a sideline press briefing UNICEF stated that vigilance is more imperative now in both Somalia and Somaliland where partners still have a lot to do to achieve the desired results as evidenced by:
A. polio outbreak in Somalia in 2013—-a relapse of the 2007 outbreak
b. Annual measles outbreaks in all the zones in Somalia —— Sanaag region recorded over 200 measles cases in February this year and had to vaccinate 9,469 children to halt the outbreak while
c. Routine immunization coverage is unacceptably low
In conclusion Mr Steven Lauwerier who commended the Somaliland ministry of health for apt partnership, revealed that UNICEF will continue to ensure vaccine and other related supplies, storage facilities and robust social mobilization activities so that all children have access to these life-saving vaccines
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