Myanmar, Republic of the Union of

Myanmar mobilizes to protect 7 million children against polio

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF video
A child in Myanmar receives oral polio vaccine during the first of two rounds of National Immunization Days.

By Sandar Linn

SHAN STATE, Myanmar, 23 November 2007 – Midwife Daw Kyin Nu is braving the cold rain in the hilly regions of Shan State, Myanmar, as she goes house to house to vaccinate children under the age of five against polio.

She has targeted 484 children amongst the eight villages she services for immunization, and she is determined not to miss a single child.

“Polio is one of the vaccine-preventable diseases, and it is important that health-care providers like me should not miss the chance to give children lifelong protection,” she says.

Mobilization and follow up

Daw is just one of more than 10,000 roving vaccinators mobilized for the fight against the crippling disease during two rounds of National Immunization Days (NIDs) being held in the country in November and December. Officials hope to immunize more than 7.2 million children under five with the polio vaccine during the nationwide campaign.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF video
Roving vaccinators in Myanmar visit a family with polio vaccine preserved in a cold-chain carrier case.

Messages on white street banners around Myanmar invited parents to bring their children to fixed immunization posts set up in wards and villages around the country during the first round of immunizations, held from 3 to 5 November. Communities were also informed about the coming NIDs by health workers and by town criers using megaphones.

Daw Than Than Htay, 32, a mother of two, says she has brought her children to the vaccination post because she loves them and wanted them free from disability. “I think every parent here is also bringing their children, thanks to the health staff and the pains they are taking to make the campaign a success,” she notes.

While many children turn up at the fixed posts, those missed are immediately followed up by mobile vaccinators to ensure that all children are immunized.

International commitment

Myanmar was polio-free for five years, until the beginning of 2007. Since then, 14 confirmed new cases have been reported, prompting officials here to take drastic actions to prevent any further transmission of the polio virus.

The campaign was organized by Myanmar’s Ministry of Health with support from UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with essential funding provided by Japan.

The cooperative work between these partners, government officials and the multitude of volunteers proved successful during the first round of NIDs. The second three-day round, set to begin on 2 December, is expected to prove just as effective – giving millions of Burmese children a chance to live without fear of polio.


 

 

Video

November 2007:
UNICEF correspondent Anwulika Okafor reports of a national drive against polio in Myanmar.
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