The World Health Organization (WHO) has started a vaccination campaign in southeastern Somalia’s Banadir administrative region to vaccinate some 400,000 children against polio and measles. 

“Vaccines help save lives! As we celebrate the eradication of wild polio, UNICEF Somalia continues to take action,” James Elder, UNICEF Chief of Communications for Eastern and Southern Africa, tweeted Tuesday.

Elder said the new polio and vaccination campaign aims to reach 400,000 children.

“The campaign is a signal that despite challenges, it is practically possible to organize such mass campaigns and other routine health services through effective planning, coordination and implementation of appropriate risk mitigation measures,” WHO Somalia tweeted Tuesday regarding the vaccination campaign.

After four years without a single case of wild polio, the African region has been certified free of wild polio virus. The announcement was made at a virtual session last Tuesday of the 70th WHO Regional Committee for Africa.

“Since 1996, almost 9 billion polio vaccines have been delivered in Africa, up to 1.8 million cases of wild polio have been averted, and up to 180,000 lives have been saved,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the session.

Stopping wild polio in Africa has brought benefits far beyond saving children from paralysis. Africa’s health systems and public health programs are much stronger thanks to investments made in immunization, disease surveillance and outbreak response, according to the WHO Africa.

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