The fight against polio is one of the triumphs of modern medicine. Polio has vanished entirely from developed nations. Since 1988, global eradication efforts have reduced the number of cases around the world by 99 per cent.
But polio is persistent, and can reappear in countries that were once polio-free. In Africa, a recent resurgence of polio has threatened millions of children with disability or death, and demands intensified action to fight the virus.
UNICEF is playing a central role in fighting the resurgence of this crippling disease—supplying critical vaccines, helping organize immunization campaigns, and playing a lead role in educating parents about the absolute necessity of immunizing their children.
The importance of immunizing every child cannot be overstated. An outbreak that began in Nigeria in mid-2003 as a result of low immunization coverage has since spread to 18 countries that were once polio-free.
In response to this crisis, UNICEF and other partners in the effort to eradicate polio launched a massive immunization program in Africa. Earlier this year, more than a million health workers went house to house through 23 countries to vaccinate roughly 100 million children.
But the battle against the disease is not over. That’s why UNICEF this month helped 22 African nations to launch another series of synchronized polio immunization campaigns, in a concerted effort to drive the virus out of the continent forever.
The new drive is the first element of a 'maintenance' programme designed to sustain the tremendous progress already made in the fight against polio.
Your continued support of UNICEF makes these programmes possible. And these programmes mean that hundreds of millions of children will have the chance to enjoy what most of us often take for granted—a life free from the crippling scourge of polio.
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