An independent monitoring board on the assessment of the progress being made by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) has stated that it cannot be confident of a new polio eradication date following reported cases.
This year was supposed to be the year polio transmission ended. However, countries like Kenya which has reported only six cases fueled expectations that it could be just months away from interrupting the endemic transmission of the crippling virus.
The new report from the Independent Monitoring Board of the GPEI states that the conditions are still fragile since the spread is ongoing—and tenuous political conditions could jeopardize vaccination efforts.
The Board stated that “every case is a failure”. It also added that such spread could be “catastrophic” in countries that have focused on vaccinating against only one strain of polio, instead of all three.
Kenya is still not out of danger since South Somalia whose low-level vaccine-derived poliovirus transmission has been unbroken since late 2016 affecting counties in Northern Kenya.
“Between the start of 2022 and the end of the first quarter of 2023, the number of inaccessible children has been reduced from just under 600,000 to around 90,000. Reaching all persistently missed children is the core target,” the report reads in part.
Following the six confirmed cases, Kenya held a vaccine drive from August 24th to August 28th, which focused on vaccinating all children under the age of five in four high-risk counties of Nairobi, Kiambu, Kajiado, and Garissa where a total of 1,957,476 children under five received vaccinations.
The ministry announced subsequent two rounds of Supplementary Immunization Activities (SIA) scheduled for September 28th to October 2nd, 2023, and November 2023, respectively, extending their scope from four counties to ten high-risk counties.
The additional counties include Lamu, Wajir, Tana River, Machakos, Mandera, and Kitui. The campaign will target 2.8 million children under the age of five.