Somalia embarks on campaign to vaccinate 1.7M children

One in seven Somali children dies before their fifth birthday due to measles or polio, says WHO

Magdalene Mukami   | 25.11.2019
Somalia embarks on campaign to vaccinate 1.7M children


Faduma Fowiso is holding her baby, who is being vaccinated for measles and polio in the Benaadir region of Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital.

Her child, Uba Sahra, is crying at the top of her lungs. She stops sobbing after a while and opens her mouth to receive lifesaving oral vaccine drops. A couple of drops later, she smiles, full of joy.

“You see? That wasn’t even painful,” Fowiso tells her baby in English while gently patting her back.

Fowiso is among many who are benefiting from a World Health Organization (WHO) vaccination exercise that kicked off Sunday and is set to end on Nov. 29 with the aim of vaccinating 1.7 million children against measles and polio.

She is among thousands of parents in Somalia who have always battled with trying to control vaccine-preventable diseases to no avail.

Due to constant internal conflict, climatic conditions and instability, Somalia’s health system has been poor.

“A neighbor of mine gave birth in 2016. The twins died due to measles. She gave up hope of starting a family. I haven’t seen her in a while…Look around and see how many people want their children vaccinated. It is because this Benaadir region is known for polio and measles deaths,” Fowiso said.

During the launch of the exercise, WHO representative Dr. Mamunur Malik said that one among seven Somali children dies before their fifth birthday from measles or polio.

“Many of these deaths are preventable through the use of vaccines. The integrated campaign for measles and polio is expected to improve routine immunization coverage and reach out to those who are missed out during routine immunization programs,” he said.

The WHO said the campaign particularly targets children in districts with high concentrations of internally displaced people and nomadic communities. It is being implemented by more than 17,000 skilled community vaccinators, frontline health workers and social mobilizers.

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