Disaster Alert: Polio Outbreak in Africa

Disaster Alert

Africa –  In April 2013, a polio outbreak was reported in Somalia with warnings being issued to bordering areas of Kenya and Ethiopia. The American Red Cross is providing $170,000 to help fight a polio outbreak in Kenya. The Kenya Red Cross will use these funds to reach over 1million children affected by the outbreak with health education campaigns in 5 districts, including the Dadaab refugee camp.

Polio is a viral infection that can result in paralysis, nerve and muscle damage and respiratory difficulties, most often in children under the age of three. It is transmitted silently and one verified case can represent hundreds of potential transmission. Movement and refugee resettlement throughout the Horn of Africa exacerbates the likely hood of transmission.

Red Cross volunteers assist the Ministry of Public Health with pre-registration for vaccination campaigns to help ensure maximum coverage. They will also support logistics for immunization activities, transportation and record keeping. Volunteers will engage in social mobilization activities in communities helping educate parents about the importance of vaccinating their children. Additionally, volunteers will go house to house after the campaign to follow up on non-vaccinated children and refer them to the appropriate health care facility.

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