400 TARGETED

Children in terror-prone Lamu villages to be reached in polio vaccination drive

Areas were left out during first round due to imminent threat of al Shabaab militants

In Summary
  • Health executive says they have made arrangements with county commissioner so health officials are escorted to immunise the children 

By Cheti Praxides

@ppcheti

Children from terror-prone areas of Lamu county are targeted in the second round of polio vaccination drive that ends of Wednesday.

The group was left out during the first round that was conducted in May.

About 25,000 children aged five and below are targeted for the second phase of the polio vaccination drive in Lamu.

The campaign was launched on Tuesday at the Lamu Fort with residents urged to present their children for the jab.

Officers will conduct door-to-door campaigns to reach those targeted.

Speaking shortly after the launch, Lamu health executive Anne Gathoni said over 200 children under the age of five will be reached in Basuba ward. The area is prone to terror attacks.

At least 400 children from terror-prone zones in Lamu county were left out during the first round of the campaign in May due to the imminent threat of al Shabaab militants.

The affected areas are in Basuba ward in Boni Forest and those in Dide Waride and Chalaluma areas, all of which fall within the Boni enclave where a security operation to drive out militants is ongoing.

Gathoni said security plans had been made with the office of the county commissioner to ensure health workers are escorted to the areas to immunize the children.

“We have also coordinated with the office of the county commissioner in order to ensure the 200 children in Boni Forest also receive the vaccine,” Gathoni said.

Lamu county health promotion officer Mohamed Muhsin said at least 98 per cent of children were covered for polio vaccination in the first phase.

He said the objective is to ensure all children in Lamu are vaccinated so as to ensure the region develops herd immunity towards polio.

“We intend to reach children in terror-prone areas and the rest of Lamu. Our objective is to achieve a 100 per cent coverage in the second phase,”  Muhsin said.

Parents from terror-prone areas have asked the government to ensure their children don’t entirely miss out on the jab.

“It is dangerous if our children who missed out on the first phase to miss out again. Let the government do all it can to ensure that doesn’t happen,” Bodhali resident Mussa Forole said.

All dispensaries in these areas have remained closed since the first terror attack in 2014 where most were raided, looted, vandalised and torched by militants.

The Bonis are among Kenya’s last forest communities and are concentrated majorly on the Lamu-Somalia border.

This leaves them vulnerable and at greater risk of polio due to their proximity to Somalia.

 

Edited by P.O