The government has launched a National Polio Vaccination Drive targeting 7.4 million children to prevent resurgence in the country.

The initiative is being conducted in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Kenya, World Health Organization (WHO)and other health partners will be undertaken in 10 counties.

The 5-day vaccination campaign against polio is set to kick off phase one where 2.5 million doses will be administered in Nairobi, Kiambu, Garissa, and Kajiado Counties from 24th to 28th August 2023.

Thereafter, it will proceed in September and end in October at Tana River, Wajir, Mandera, Machakos, Lamu, Kajiado, and Kitui counties.

“As a ministry, we have spearheaded this fight against polio with unwavering commitment. It’s vital to acknowledge the role immunization has played in our progress. Immunization, particularly of children under five, has been a cornerstone of our approach. This cost-effective public health intervention has been instrumental in driving down polio cases and creating a safer environment for our children,” said the Public Health and Professional Standards Principal Secretary Mary Muthoni.

Health Director-General Patrick Amoth noted that out of 1.5 million children born annually, only 3 percent are not vaccinated.

“As a country the percentage of our children who are falling into the new rise of Kenya Demographic Survey of 2022 is 80 per cent with an accrued birth rate of 1.5 million . It means our 300,000 children are not vaccinated. Our zero dose children have stagnated at 3 per cent every year,” remarked Amoth.

Amoth also said that the three rounds of emergency polio vaccination campaigns targets children under five years and that the said children of Kenya must benefit from available science and technology.

The Ministry of Health has reported that the first two cases were reported from Garissa in May and later escalated to six in June where the Garissa County’s Primary Health Surveillance team picked the six cases of children identified in two refugee camps of Dadaab and Hagadera.

In an effort to safeguard the health and well-being of Kenya’s young population UNICEF and other health stakeholders budgeted for polio dose on a dollar per child.The critical initiative was unveiled following a media and stakeholders meeting today to address the urgent need to prevent the resurgence of polio in the country.

Kenya has tried to maintain a polio-free status for a decade and a robust cross-border collaboration and addressing surveillance gaps across international borders has been emphasized and parents have been encouraged to bring children under five years  regardless of immunization status.

By Fred Odanga.