After Three Years Struggle, WHO Declares Somalia Polio Free

The declaration by WHO keeps Somalia outside the last group of countries which still record cases of polio in the world

A Somali boy receives a polio vaccination at the Tunisian hospital in Mogadishu. The hospital treats local diseases, malnutrition, and other injuries.

Mogadishu, Aug 14, 2015: The UN World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Somalia country polio free on Sunday saying it had not registered any case of polio disease in the last three years.

According to WHO, the country recorded the last case of polio in 2014 in the central part of the country and has remained free from the paralyzing disease ever since. However, the UN health agency warned Somalia calling for the sustained vaccination campaign, as reported by Xinhua.

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The head of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean, which covers Somalia, Mohamed Fiqi said: 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 a high risk of polio importation like Somalia is more of a priority than ever,” Fiqi said.

He added, “As we move forward, the polio program 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 immunization services and infrastructure.”

The WHO chief warned Somalia remains at risk of importation of the virus from countries- “Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan”, where polio is still being recorded, mentioned Hans India.

Faduma Hussein Yagoub, a polio sufferer, came with her family to Dadaab from Somalia. Her husband and two of her five young children died of hunger on the way. Despite the dangers thousands of refugees every week are making the journey, walking for weeks across the desert and braving attacks by armed robbers and wild animals. Wikimedia Commons

Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo appreciated efforts to rid his country of the polio disease which he noted had afflicted many children.

“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.

The polio-free celebration appears amid the worst outbreak of measles Somalia has seen in years.

Commenced in January 2017,  the country is also still responding to an outbreak of acute watery diarrhea/cholera.

Polio systems and networks are being used in both interventions.

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