SOMALIA – Somalia’s Federal Government and members of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) have introduced extensive measures to curb the ongoing poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) outbreak in the country.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is a public-private partnership led by national governments with six international partners focused on eradicating polio worldwide.

The six partners include the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the vaccine alliance Gavi.

Somalia, the GPEI members and other key partners have endorsed the Somalia Polio Eradication Action Plan 2022 to reaffirm their commitment to end the ongoing circulating poliovirus type 2 outbreak and keep the country free from wild poliovirus.

The Action Plan outlines a four-point strategy to contain the spread of the current poliovirus type 2 outbreak which was detected for the first time in the environment in November 2017 and in a child on 11th May 2018.

The ongoing poliovirus outbreak in Somalia continues to threaten under-vaccinated children where 23 infected children have been reported so far with the last reported case detected in October 2021.

The polio eradication plan aims to direct partners’ efforts and resources towards boosting population immunity through combined efforts to reach high-risk populations like inaccessible and nomadic communities as well as internally displaced persons.

The detailed plan targets high-risk populations where children may have missed out on vaccinations to strengthen their immunity, enhance the search for poliovirus circulation and strengthen coordination among all stakeholders.

Somalia will work together with partners to intensify efforts to offer 5 opportunities for vaccination against polio in 2022, provide routine childhood immunization in high-risk locations and strengthen community engagement.

The emergency plan will also advocate for stronger cross-border coordination among the polio eradication programmes in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti to avoid cVDPV2 virus spill over into international borders.

WHO Representative to Somalia Dr Mamunur Rahman Malik revealed that Somalia’s polio eradication programme has made progress including stopping outbreaks of wild poliovirus as well as the recent circulating poliovirus type 3 in 2021.

The programme has established a vast network of polio workforce and assets including human and operational resources which will help contain the current outbreak as well as achieve broader health system goals,” he added.

The Somalia Polio Eradication Action Plan which will be implemented in 2022 complements one of the goals outlined in the GPEI Polio Eradication Strategy 2022–2026 to stop cVDPV transmission and prevent outbreaks in non-endemic countries.

The plan is also in line with Somalia’s national goals and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are related to health.

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