World health body declares Kenya polio free

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared Kenya a polio free country. Yesterday, more than 1,000 wild poliovirus type 2 isolates were destroyed, beating the global deadline of containing Sabin type poliovirus materials by three days.

This marks the end of the virus in Kenya and the Horn of Africa where its last strains were stored. In an elaborate exercise held at the Kenya Medical Research Institute headquarters in Nairobi, vials of the virus and circulating vaccine derived materials stored in freezers were killed after being subjected to a heat of 121 degrees celcius and were later burnt to ashes in an incinerator.

The move is meant to avoid the possibilities of the virus by accident or deliberate being reintroduced after it was declared non-existent across the world on September 20, last year.

Speaking during the incineration, Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko said the destruction of the materials will forestall the risk of accidental and deliberate reintroduction of wild poliovirus type 2 from the Kemri lab to the community.

“As a country, this is a great milestone. National Task Force for the Containment of Polio-viruses has documented Kemri lab as the only that has identified these polio 2 isolates meaning there’s no other in the country that may have them but labs that may have materials taken when Trivalent oral polio vaccine will still be given routine immunisation,” said Dr Kioko.

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