Insecurity in parts of Lamu have affected government quest of ensuring many children get vaccinated against polio in the county and Coast region in general.
More than 1000 children in Lamu county are reported to have missed out in the first round of the polio vaccination which ended early this month due to insecurity.
The children are from terror prone areas of Basuba, Milimani, Mangai and Mararani and Kiangwe all in Basuba ward where insecurity incidences have become common due to threats from terror group Alshabaab.
Speaking in his office on Sunday, Lamu County Health Director Victor Tole confirmed that children from the five villages were yet to be vaccinated.
Social workers carrying out the polio vaccination have remained adamant to venture into these areas which have now become renowned terror hotspots in the county.
Tole said the situation was due to insecurity caused majorly by constant invasions by terrorists in the said villages.
He said they were waiting for the security situation in the affected places to normalize before they can move in and have the children vaccinated.
“It’s true we haven’t been able to reach and vaccinate any child from Basuba ward. This is due to insecurity in the areas. Vehicles are not allowed on the routes and so there is no way for us to reach those children at the moment. We are however optimistic that once the security situation normalizes, we shall have those children vaccinated since with polio, no chances should be taken,” said Tole.
Residents from the affected areas also expressed concern over insecurity.
“Does it mean because this place is facing security challenges that we are now on our own. People are busy keeping themselves safe. What about us? What will happen to our children if they don’t get the vaccine. We don’t want to raise a generation of polio stricken children. Security is the mandate of the government and so is health. They should find ways to have our children vaccinated,” said Halako Mussa, a resident of Kiangwe.
Basuba ward representative Mohamed Delo expressed his concerns saying the region might plunge into a polio crisis if quick measures are not taken to have the children vaccinated within the required time frame.
He said there was need for the government to ensure all children are vaccinated whether or not they live in terror prone areas.
“The government needs to stand up to its duty and ensure children from Basuba receive then polio jab just like others elsewhere. Whether or not there is insecurity, these children didn’t ask for all that. We don’t want to hear any excusez.We are all equal citizens of this nation and must be treated as such.”said Delo.
He said the government had many options among them evacuating the children to safer zones and have them receive the jab instead of doing nothing.
“We want to see the government treat this matter with the seriousness it deserves. We all know what polio can do to any given population. There many options and so the government has no excuse,” he added.