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Since 5 January 2014 no new cases of wild polio virus have been reported from the Somali region of Ethiopia, according to a report by WHO.
Dr Pierre M’Pele-Kilebou, WHO Representative to Ethiopia, and Dr Omar Mohammed Farah, Somali Regional Health Bureau Head, visited Wardher town in Doollo Zone, Somali region, on 5 January 2015 to congratulate the Zonal Administration and WHO/UNICEF Operations Base staff for their persistent efforts to ensure that every last child gets vaccinated against this paralyzing disease.
The high level delegation acknowledged the excellent collaboration with the Polio Partners Group in Ethiopia to kick polio out of the country and the Horn of Africa.
Until August 2013, when the first case of wild poliovirus was confirmed from the Somali region, Ethiopia had been polio-free since 2008. Ethiopia’s fast and aggressive response together with immunization partners helped to halt the spread of the disease, but intensified efforts must continue as the virus continues to circulate in neighboring Somalia.
Since June 2013, 12 rounds of polio immunization campaigns have been conducted in addition to on-going border vaccination along the border with Somalia. Over 90% of the population in Doollo Zone are nomads, many living in hard to reach areas. Innovative approaches, such as community mobilization through clan and religious leaders and women groups, as well as vaccination teams at water points, have been proven as essential strategies for reaching the highly mobile population.
Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children under five years of age. It invades the nervous system, and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours. One in 200 cases of polio leads to irreversible paralysis. Among those paralysed, 5 to 10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilized. There is no cure for polio, but it can be prevented through a cheap, effective and easily administered oral polio vaccine (OPV). (WHO)