The 2011 National Polio Immunization Campaign Reached 12 Million Children
More than 12 million children, under the age of five, were successfully vaccinated in the nation-wide polio immunization campaign, organized by the Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP), in October.
Although Egypt was announced polio-free in 2006, the national polio immunization campaign was organized to maintain a high level of protection among children against imported wild polio virus and maintain Egypt polio-free.
In response to the national call for immunization, millions of Egyptian families accompanied their children to health facilities. Some vaccination teams were also positioned near Mosques, Churches, clubs, markets, train stations, bus stops and parks.
In rural areas, families also vaccinated their little ones at the privacy of their homes, thanks to the tens of thousands of MOHP trained teams who moved from house to house.
Residents were informed about the immunization campaign through Public Service Announcements (PSA) broadcast via TV and radio stations, posters, SMS as well as other means such as mobile megaphones.
Key messages highlighting that the vaccination is safe and free of charge were broadcasted on TV and radio stations. Social media was also utilized to urge parents to vaccinate their children.
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador actor, Khaled Abol Naga, recorded a public awareness message, which was aired and sent as a voice message to mobile users, to support the campaign.
Social mobilization was a great success. Community leaders, civic society, non-governmental organizations, youth volunteers, as well as the private sector all joined in urging caretakers to immunize their children against the virus, in a campaign which covered all Egyptian governorates.
Private Sector’s Support:
Private sector partners contributed in disseminating the awareness raising messages reaching millions of Egyptian families in rural and urban settings.
- Mobile phone companies, Mobinil, Vodafone and Etisalat, sent more than 2.5 million SMS and voice messages to their subscribers, encouraging them to vaccinate their children.
- “Masrawy’’, Egypt’s first Arabic web portal, and one of the main online news portals, posted the TV PSA reaching all site visitors.
- Aramex and DHL courier companies utilised their fleet to disseminate the message in the streets of Egypt attracting hundreds of thousands of Egyptian families. Aramex reached around 10,000 of its customers through direct mail. DHL, placed the campaign’s PSA, on their call centre.
- Total, Exxon Mobil, Carrefour and Barclays Bank, made their display areas in fuel stations, supermarkets and branches available to inform their clients and visitors about the polio campaign.
- “La Farge for Cement” organized awareness session in the areas where they have community service activities, reaching tens of thousands in “Ezbet El Walda” a slum area in Helwan Governorate.
- Families were also reached through Walt Disney publications, via Nahdet Misr Group. Information on the campaign, as well as questions and answers, were circulated through five of Nahdet Misr’s publications where parents, youth and children are the target audience.
- Starwood Hotels and Resorts as well as Egypt Post Office, disseminated the information among their employees.
- Youth also participate in the campaign. Volunteers and student unions, at Cairo University, disseminated the campaigns information, spreading awareness among students and their families.
Companies also used their social media network, like Facebook, and Twitter to reach their fans and followers. This created an interactive forum to respond to public questions.
Using a variety of communication means and leveraging different company resources helped in reaching caretakers on the importance and means of vaccinating children.
Polio is a highly infectious viral disease that attacks the nervous system. Children under five years of age are the most vulnerable to the disease, but timely immunization can prevent infection. Approximately one out of every 200-400 children infected, globally, will suffer from paralysis and even death.
Since the Polio Eradication Initiative was launched in 1988, the number of polio cases reported annually has decreased by over 99% – from 350,000 in 1988 to 1,606 cases in 2009.
This rapid success has been achieved through the global efforts to immunize children in mass polio campaigns, known as National Immunization Days (NIDs).