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Religious beliefs, ignorance hinders fight against polio

Religious beliefs and ignorance on the severity of polio virus is a major stumbling block in the fight against the crippling infection.

According to Alfred Sein, Kajiado Central Sub County Coordinator in charge of the polio vaccination exercise, some parents do not allow their children to receive the vaccine due to their religious beliefs thus putting them at risk.

Sein noted that in some places parents were even hiding their children under the beds so that they do not receive the polio vaccine due to varied misconceptions. “Some parents do not know the severity of polio and hide their children when health officials come knocking without knowing that in case of an outbreak, their children would be at a high risk,” he said.

A child under five receives the polio vaccine in Kajiado Central. Photo by Rop Janet

The health officer said there was need to educate the public on the dangers of polio and safety of the vaccine to stop the resistance.

Sein added that apart from the resistance faced in some areas, the number of teams conducting the exercise had been reduced this year and thus were unable to reach many children during the five-day exercise. “The harsh terrain in the vast sub county is another challenge we faced but we however managed to vaccinate 80 per cent of the children targeted,” he said.

The nurse in charge at the Kajiado Referral Hospital Simantoi Teum said polio was a crippling and potentially deadly disease that affects the nervous system and can be prevented with a vaccine.

Kajiado is among the 13 counties at high risk of polio infection. Other counties targeted include Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Isiolo, Mombasa, Kilifi, Kitui, Machakos, Kiambu, Tana River, Lamu and Nairobi.

The first phase of the exercise was carried out from 22nd to 26th May with the second phase scheduled to run from 19th to 23rd June 2021.

By Rop Janet

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