NAIROBI, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's health ministry said on Thursday that it plans to eradicate polio in the country by the year 2018.
The Director of Medical Services Dr. Jackson Kioko said that the country is committed toward implementing activities that will contribute to achieving the objective of ending polio and ensure that it is wiped out of the country.
"The polio-free status we currently enjoy should therefore be maintained through strengthening routine immunization and sustaining robust surveillance system capable of promptly detecting any case to facilitate timely response," Kioko said during an immunisation stakeholders' meeting in Nairobi.
He also announced the start of vaccination campaign next week that targets 400,000 children in 15 border counties.
Kioko noted that despite the African region having celebrated being polio free for over one year, four cases of wild polio virus were detected in Nigeria 2016.
He revealed that as a result of detection of new cases of Wild Polio Viruses in Nigeria, the Horn of Africa Polio Technical Advisory Group (TAG) meeting held in Nairobi in September last year recommended that a number of countries within the region including Kenya conduct polio vaccination campaigns aimed at boosting immunity among children under the age of 5 years who are vulnerable to infection.
"Following this recommendation, we conducted a polio risk analysis which identified 15 out of the 47 counties as being at high risk of polio virus importation," he added.
Kioko said that the detection of the four cases call for extra vigilant and confirms that Polio anywhere is Polio everywhere.
This, he said, has therefore compelled countries within the Horn of Africa region including Kenya to put measures in place to prevent importation of Wild polio viruses.
It is encouraging to note that Kenya has been polio free for now over three years now. The last wild polio virus case was reported in July 14, 2013.
According to Kioko, the latest global risk analysis has identified Kenya as being among the 16 countries worldwide considered to be at high risk of polio virus importation and outbreak since the county is surrounded by fragile countries.
Kisumu County in western Kenya has enacted a disability law that makes immunization mandatory while, Muranga County has developed a law that is due to be assented by the area Governor.
According to UNICEF, countries have achieved 99 percent of the campaign against polio since 1988. Kenya has achieved only 80 percent of universal child immunization goal.
The East African nation, however, blames security challenges for slowing efforts in northern Kenya that borders Somalia. Enditem