MOGADISHU, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- Two UN agencies have kicked off a polio vaccination exercise targeting 1.65 million children aged under five years, with oral polio vaccine in south and central parts of Somalia.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF have also advised health workers and caregivers to observe health and safety measures against COVID-19 during the four-day campaign.
Werner Schultink, UNICEF Representative for Somalia, said these vaccination drives will help prevent further outbreaks and will protect children from deadly diseases so they can survive and thrive.
"It is critical that all routine immunizations continue, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic," Schultink said in a joint statement issued in Mogadishu on Monday.
The campaign is being carried out by 6,266 vaccinators in urban areas and 2,685 vaccinators in rural areas who will be going from door to door to reach every child possible.
Mamunur Rahman Malik, WHO Representative for Somalia, said the only way to stop such outbreaks from vaccine-preventable diseases, including polio, is to vaccinate every child every time immunization services are offered, either through routine programs or through such mass campaigns.
"We all have a moral responsibility to reach and boost the immunity of every last child in Somalia. Owing to access, security and health-seeking behavior, we are missing a large number of children every year, who are not receiving these life-saving vaccines," Malik said.
The UN agencies said the campaign is the first step in a two-part effort to raise immunity levels among Somali children.
The UN agencies and Somali government will conduct the second part of the campaign in October to continue to strengthen the immunity of Somali children.
"Parents and caregivers are encouraged to accept the vaccine when it is offered to give their children life-long protection against polio," said the two UN agencies.
The vaccination drive comes in wake of efforts to curb the spread of the ongoing polio outbreak in the south and central parts of Somalia. Enditem